The 2018 NFL Offseason: Dates, Deadlines and When to Expect Bears Things

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The 2018 NFL Offseason: Dates, Deadlines and When to Expect Bears Things

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The Chicago Bears season has been over for three weeks now and we’re starting to come down from that natural high of hiring a new coach. With the Bears front office and coaching staff arm-in-arm and ready to move in a new direction, this could prove to be a more fruitful offseason than the one that preceded it.

Here are the most important dates on the NFL calendar that Bears fans and the rest of the NFL should keep an eye on. You can see the full list here.

Saturday – Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. (Featuring six of the top 11 receiver prospects!)

Sunday – Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. (Which doesn’t feature any Bears. Bummer!)

Also, an assistant coach whose team is playing in the Super Bowl (who previously interviewed for a team’s head coaching job) may have a second interview with the club no later than the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

January 31 – Deadline for NFL teams to try out and negotiate with CFL players whose 2017 contracts are due to expire at 11 a.m. on February 13.

February 4 – Super Bowl LII (Patriots vs. Eagles) at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

February 6 – Waiver period begins for 2018.

February 13 – Starting at 11 a.m., NFL teams can sign players whose 2017 CFL contracts have expired.  (Note: Players under contract to a CFL club for 2018 or who have an option for 2018 are not eligible).

February 20 – First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players. (This could be an important date with regards to free agent cornerback Kyle Fuller’s future in Chicago).

February 27 to March 5 – NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

March 6 – Deadline for teams to designate Franchise or Transition players is 3 p.m.

March 12 to March 14 – Teams can begin to contact and enter contract negotiations with certified player agents whose players will become unrestricted free agents upon their deals expiring on March 14. (Note: Contracts cannot be signed with a new club until 3 p.m. on March 14).

March 14 – Teams must submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents with expiring contracts, and to whom they want to retain compensation/right of first refusal by 3 p.m.

  • Teams must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to players with expiring 2017 contracts and who have accrued fewer than three seasons of free agency credit before 3 p.m.
  • All teams must be under the 2018 salary cap prior to 3 p.m.
  • All 2017 player contracts expire at 3 p.m. and free agency begins
  • The official NFL trading period begins at 3 p.m.

Get your popcorn ready because the Bears project to have a ton of cap flexibility and should be active.

March 25-28 – Annual League Meeting in Orlando.

April 2 – Teams that hired a new head coach (hey, that’s Matt Nagy’s music!) after the end of the 2017 regular season may begin offseason workout programs. That means the Cardinals, Lions, Colts, Giants, Raiders, and Titans can join the Bears in getting started.

April 16 – Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.

April 20 – Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.

April 26 to April 28 – NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas. The Cleveland Browns are on the clock (again), but the Bears aren’t scheduled to pick until eighth.

May 4 to May 7 – Teams can hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie mini-camp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.

May 8 – Deadline for teams to send “May 8 Tender” to its own unsigned unrestricted free agents. If that player hasn’t a contract with the team by July 23 (or the first day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later), the player can negotiate or sign the contract until the Tuesday after the Week 10 … but only with their prior club.

May 11 to May 14 – Teams can hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie mini-camp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday. (Note: Rookie football development programs can begin May 15.)

May 14 – Rookie Football Development Programs start.

May 17 to May 20 – NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Rookies who are typically first and/or second-round picks must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. These players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days and mini-camps during this period.

May 21 to May 23 – Spring League Meeting in Atlanta.

June 1 – Deadline for teams to send “June 1 Tender” to its unsigned restricted free agents who received a qualifying offer.

June 2 – Signing bonuses included in team salaries for the start of 2019 League Year for players removed from the roster/whose contract is assigned via waivers or trade on or after June 2.

June 15 – Deadline for teams to withdraw qualifying offer to restricted free agents and retain exclusive negotiating rights.

June, TBA – Mandatory attendance for all rookies at individual teams rookie transition program.

July 16 – Deadline for a franchise player to sign a multi-year contract or extension is set for 3 p.m. After this date, the player may only sign a one-year contract for 2017.

July, TBA – Teams can open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players.

  • Veteran players (other than quarterbacks or injured players) with at least one pension-credited season can report to a team’s preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the club’s first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later.
  • Veteran quarterbacks and injured players can be required to report to the club’s preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately before the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players.

July 23 – Signing period for transition players ends.

Signing period for unrestricted free agents who were offered “May 8 Tender” ends.

August 2 – Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, kicking off the preseason.

August 2-5 – Pro Football Hall of Fame Weekend in Canton, Ohio.

August 7 – If a drafted rookie hasn’t been signed by his team, he can’t be traded to another team in 2018.

September 1 – All teams must trim their active rosters to 53.

September 6, 9-10 – Regular season football begins again!


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Luis Medina

Luis is the Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and you can find him on Twitter at @lcm1986.