As Bears fans, we’ve been offseason mode for a few weeks, but now the season is officially over and it’s time to look ahead to the offseason. The fun is just beginning. Here are some of the highlights and key dates to look forward to:
Feb. 17: First day for clubs to designate franchise or transition Players.
Feb. 19-25: Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
March 8-11: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their 2013 player contracts at 4 p.m. ET on March 11. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m. ET on March 11.
March 11: New league year, free agency begins
March 11: Before 4 p.m. ET, clubs must exercise options for 2014 on all players who have option clauses in their 2013 contracts.
March 11: Before 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts.
March 11: Before 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2013 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued Seasons of free agency credit.
March 11: All clubs must be under the 2014 salary cap before 4 p.m. ET.
March 23-26: Owners meeting, Orlando, Fla.
April 7: Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2013 regular season may begin off-season workout programs.
April 21: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin off-season workout programs.
May 2: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
May 7: Deadline for prior club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.
May 8-10: NFL draft, New York, Radio City Music Hall. First round begins at 8 p.m. ET.
May 19-21: Spring meeting, Atlanta
June 1: Teams may cut players designated as post-June 1st to spread the remaining salary cap over two seasons.
June 16: Deadline for club to withdraw Qualifying Offer to Restricted Free Agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting “June 15 Tender” of one-year contract at 110 percent of the player’s prior-year Paragraph 5 Salary (with all other terms of his prior-year contract carried forward unchanged).
June 22-28: Rookie Symposium, Aurora, Ohio.
July 15: Deadline for any Club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multi-year contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his Prior Club for the 2014 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the Club’s last regular season game.
Late July: Training camps open
August 3: Hall of Fame Game, kicks off pre-season games
September 4: 2014 NFL kickoff. Seattle Seahawks will host one of the following teams to kick off the 2014 NFL season: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams
Stay tuned to Bear Goggles On for all your NFL coverage this offseason.