With the start of the 2017 National Football League year just days away, below is a list of key dates for NFL and Patriot fans. Even though training camp is four months away, crucial decisions in the upcoming free agency and next month’s draft will have a critical impact on next season’s success for all 32 teams.
All deadlines are 4:00 pm eastern time unless noted otherwise.
Feb 28 – March 6: NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis IN.
Wed March 1: Deadline for teams to apply franchise or transition tag to impending free agents.
Sat March 4: Regional Combine, Eden Prarie MN.
March 7-April 7: College Pro Day workouts.
March 7-9: Legal Tampering Period. Teams 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 2016 Player Contracts.
March 9: At 4:00 pm the 2016 league year ends, and the 2017 league year commences with the start of free agency.
Thu March 9: Unrestricted Free Agents: All 2016 player contracts expire.
Thu March 9: Option Clauses. Deadline for teams to exercise options for 2017 on all players who have option clauses in their 2016 contracts.
Thu March 9: Restricted Free Agents. Deadline for teams to submit qualifying offers to their RFA with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
Thu March 9: Exclusive Rights Free Agents. Deadline for teams to submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2016 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
March 9: Top 51. All teams must be under their salary cap, with only the top 51 players counting against the cap.
March 9: Trading Period. After 4:00 pm when 2016 contracts expire, teams can make trades.
Sat March 11: Regional Combine, Metairie LA.
March 26-29: Annual League Meeting, Phoenix AZ.
Mon April 3: Teams that hired a new head coach may begin offseason workout programs on the first Monday of April.
Mon April 10: NFL preseason schedule announced. Preseason nationally televised games are announced with exact date and time. All other games are announced only by the week, with exact date and time released about a 7-10 days later.
Wed April 12: Patriots Hall of Fame Nomination Committee meets to select three finalists for this year’s fan election process.
Mon April 17: Teams with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs on the third Monday in April. This is also referred to as Phase One of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). These are two weeks of voluntary strength and conditioning activities, and physical rehabilitation. The strength and conditioning coaches are the only coaches that can be present. There is a time limit of four hours per day and maximum of 90 minutes on the field. Of those four hours the team can specify two hours for players to be at the facility, with players choosing the other two (for weights, running, etc.)
In all phases of OTAs there are a maximum of four workouts per week, none on the weekend. Contact work such as tackling and blocking is prohibited.
Mon April 17: New England Patriots’ offseason conditioning program commences.
Tue April 18: Annual pre-draft press conference from Pats’ director of player personnel Nick Caserio, starting at 11:30 am.
Wed April 19: Patriots Super Bowl 51 team honored at the White House.
Thu April 20: 2017 NFL Schedule announced.
Fri April 21: Patriots announce three finalists for the team’s Hall of Fame; fan voting commences, concluding on May 15. The winner will be announced about a week later and the induction ceremony will likely be held the day prior to the first preseason game, with a halftime ceremony at the home opener.
Fri April 21: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets with other teams.
April 27-29: NFL Draft, Philadelphia PA. Round One is on Thursday April 27 starting at 8 pm. Rounds 2-3 take place on Friday April 28, beginning at 7 pm. Rounds 4-7 will be on Saturday April 29, commencing at noon.
Sat April 29: Teams may sign undrafted rookie free agents as soon as the draft is completed.
Mon April 31: Phase Two of OTAs. Same rules as Phase One, except this is for three weeks and all coaches are permitted on the field. Individual and non-contact drills are allowed. No offense versus defense, no helmets.
May 5-8 or 6-9: Rookie Minicamp. First option for teams to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp; from either Friday through Sunday, or from Saturday through Monday.
Tue May 9: Unrestricted Free Agent Tender. Deadline for teams to send “May 9 Tender” to its unsigned Unrestricted Free Agents. If the UFA has not signed a contract with a team by July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later), he can only negotiate or sign a contract from that date until the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season only with his old team.
May 12-14 or 13-15: Rookie Minicamp. Second option for teams may to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp; from either Friday through Sunday, or from Saturday through Monday.
Mon May 15: Rookie Football Development Programs begin.
~ May 18: Winner from fan voting for Patriots Hall of Fame announced.
May 18-21: NFLPA Rookie Premiere, Los Angeles CA. Invited Rookies (typically, first and/or second-round selections) must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. Such players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days, and minicamps during this period.
May 22-24: Spring League Meeting, Chicago, IL.
Late May-Early June: OTA. Phase Three of Organized Team Activities, with specific dates varying by team. Clubs may have four OTAs in May and four in June. No pads except protective knee or elbow pads, but helmets are permitted. No live contact drills between offensive and defensive linemen. 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permitted, provided no live contact takes place. Maximum six total hours per day, with a maximum two hours on the field for any player. Maximum of three OTAs per week for the first two weeks. During weeks one and two a fourth ‘non-OTA’ workout is allowed, but Phase Two rules apply. There are a maximum of four OTAs for the third o fourth week, with the other week being the mandatory minicamp.
Mon May 22: Patriots’ OTA
Tue May 23: Patriots’ OTA
Thu May 25: Patriots’ OTA, open to media.
Wed May 31: Patriots’ OTA.
Thu June 1: Patriots’ OTA.
June: Mandatory Minicamps, specific dates vary by team. Minicamp must be conducted during the week (Monday through Friday), with physicals taking place on Monday (but no practice or workouts on that day), and then practices on Tuesday through Thursday. Minicamp rules are similar to OTA rules, but Minicamp allows for 10 hours per day, with 3½ hours on the field spread out over two sessions.
Thu June 1: Restricted Free Agent Tender. Deadline for team to apply “June 1 Tender” to its unsigned RFA who received a qualifying offer for a Right of First Refusal Only, in order for that player to be subject to the CBA “June 15 Tender” provision.
Fri June 2: Salary Cap Implications. For any player released, waived or traded after June 2, any remaining prorated signing bonus amounts for future years will be included fully on the team’s 2018 salary.
Tue June 6: Patriots’ minicamp, open to media.
Wed June 7: Patriots’ minicamp, open to media.
Thu June 8: Patriots’ minicamp, open to media.
Mon June 12: Patriots’ OTA, open to media.
Tue June 13: Patriots’ OTA.
Thu June 15: Patriots’ OTA.
Thu June 15: Deadline for teams to withdraw qualifying offer from restricted free agents and still maintain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting “June 15 Tender” of one-year contract at 110 percent of the player’s prior-year salary.
June 20-22: Rookie Transition Program. Held by all teams. Attendance is mandatory for all rookies. Topics teams will address with players include social responsibility, respect at work, mental health, character and values and player engagement resources. Replaces centralized Rookie Symposium (infamous for Cris Carter’s ‘get a fall guy’ speech).
Sat July 15: Deadline for any franchise tag player to sign a multiyear contract. Any player who does not do so can sign only a one-year contract with his team, and the contract cannot be extended until after the team’s last regular-season game.
Thu July 20: Training Camp opens for the two teams playing in the Hall of Fame game.
Sat July 22 (or the first scheduled day of training camp, whichever is later): Signing Period ends for UFA to whom a “May 9 Tender” was made by prior club. After this date and until the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.
Sat July 22: Signing Period ends for Transition Players with outstanding tenders. After this date and until the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.
July 25-30: Training Camps Open.
Teams are permitted to 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 (defined as a player with at least one pension-credited season) other than quarterbacks or injured players may report to training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the team’s first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later.
Veteran quarterbacks and injured players may be required to report to the club’s preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately prior to the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players, provided the club has already opened (or simultaneously opens) its official preseason training camp for all rookies and first-year players.
A three-day acclimation period will apply to players who are on a club’s roster up to and including the mandatory veteran reporting date. Players who join the roster after that date may practice (including wearing pads) and play immediately after passing a physical.
Mon July 24: Rookies report to Foxboro for training camp.
Wed July 26: Veterans report to Foxboro for training camp.
Thu July 27, 9:00 am: Training Camp session #1.
Fri July 28, 9:00 am: Training Camp session #2.
Sat July 29, 9:00 am: Training Camp session #3.
Sat July 29, noon: Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Raymond Clayborn.
Sun July 30, 9:00 am: Training Camp session #4.
Thu Aug 3: Hall of Fame Game, Canton OH.
Sat Aug 5: Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, Canton OH.
Mon Aug 7: Training Camp joint practice session with Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tue Aug 8: Training Camp joint practice session with Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tue Aug 8: Deadline for players under contract to report to their clubs to earn an accrued season for free agency purposes.
Tue Aug 8: If a drafted rookie has not signed with his club by this date, he cannot be traded to any other club in 2017, and may sign a player contract only with the drafting club until the day of the 2018 draft.
Aug 10-14: Preseason Week 1 NFL games.
Thu Aug 10, 7:30 pm: Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots.
Aug 12-16: Each club has until five days prior to its second preseason game to provide any tendered but unsigned Exclusive Rights Player or Restricted Free Agent with written notice of the club’s intent to place the player on the Exempt List if the player fails to report at least the day before the club’s second preseason game. Once such notice has been provided, the club must place the player on the Exempt List. While on the Exempt List, the player will not be entitled to compensation for up to three regular-season games, depending upon the date the player reports to the club.
Aug 17-21: Preseason Week 2 NFL games.
Sat Aug 19, 8:00 pm: New England Patriots at Houston Texans.
Aug 23-27: Preseason Week 3 NFL games.
Fri Aug 25, 7:00 pm: New England Patriots at Detroit Lions.
Aug 31-Sept 1: Preseason Week 4 NFL games.
Thu Aug 31, 7:30 pm: New York Giants at New England Patriots.
Sat Sept 2: Roster Cuts. Teams must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.
Sat Sept 2: Simultaneously with the roster cut-down to 53, clubs that have players in the categories of “Active/Physically Unable to Perform” or “Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness” must select one of the following options: place player on “Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform” or “Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness”, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List.
Sun Sept 3: Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12:00 noon ET.
Sun Sept 3: Claiming period for players waived during final roster cuts ends at 12 noon.
Sun Sept 3: Teams may sign up to ten players to their Practice Squad, starting at 1:00 pm ET.
Sun Sept 3: All tryouts on this date and for the remainder of the season must be reported to the league office.
Mon Sept 4: Required filing of injury reports and game status goes in to effect.
Thu Sept 7: Top 51 Rule expires and all teams must be under the salary cap for their full roster.
Thu Sept 7, 8:30 pm: 2017 regular season commences with Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots, on NBC.
Sept 10-11: Remainder of NFL Week 1 games.
Sept 8, 11-12: Any veteran player with at least four previous pension-credited seasons who is released after week one is entitled to termination pay after the end of the season (contract guaranteed).
Sept 14-18: NFL Week 2
Sun Sept 17, 1:00 pm: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints, on CBS.
Sept 21-25: NFL Week 3
Sun Sept 24, 1:00 pm: Houston Texans at New England Patriots, on CBS.
Sept 28-Oct 2: NFL Week 4
Sun Oct 1, 1:00 pm: Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots, on Fox.
Oct 5-9: NFL Week 5
Thu Oct 5, 8:25 pm: New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on CBS.
Oct 12-16: NFL Week 6
Sun Oct 15, 1:00 pm: New England Patriots at New York Jets, on CBS.
Mid October: IR. One player per team per season can return from Injured Reserve to the Active Roster. That player has to have been on IR for at least six weeks.
Oct 13-17: PUP. Beginning on the sixth calendar day prior to a club’s seventh regular season game (including any bye week) and continuing through the day after the conclusion of the 11th regular season weekend, clubs are permitted to begin practicing players on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform and Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness for a period not to exceed 21 days. Players may be activated during the 21-day practice period, or prior to the day after the conclusion of the 21-day period, provided that no player may be activated to participate in a Week 6 game.
Oct 17-18: Fall league meeting.
Oct 19-23: NFL Week 7
Sun Oct 22, 8:30 pm: Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots, on NBC.
Oct 26-30: NFL Week 8
Sun Oct 29, 1:00 pm: Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots, on CBS.
Tue Oct 31: trade deadline.
Wed Nov 1: Players with at least four previous pension-credited seasons are subject to the waiver system for the remainder of the regular season and postseason.
Nov 2-6: NFL Week 9 — bye week for Patriots.
Nov 9-13: NFL Week 10
Sun Nov 12, 8:30 pm: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, on NBC.
Tue Nov 14: signing period ends for those playing under a franchise tag. Any players tendered, franchised or drafted rookies who had not signed those offers to this point are now not eligible to play for the rest of the season.
Nov 16-20: NFL Week 11
Sun Nov 19, 4:25 pm: New England Patriots vs Oakland Raiders in Mexico City, on CBS.
Nov 23-27: NFL Week 12
Sun Nov 26, 1:00 pm: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots, on CBS.
Nov 30-Dec 4: NFL Week 13
Mon Dec 1: clubs can tryout and negotiate with CFL players whose contracts are about to expire, through January 31.
Sun Dec 3, 1:00 pm: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, on CBS.
Dec 7-11: NFL Week 14
Mon Dec 11, 8:30 pm: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, on bspn.
Tue Dec 12: NFL management council labor seminar.
Wed Dec 13: league meeting.
Dec 14-18: NFL Week 15
Sun Dec 17, 4:25 pm: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers, on CBS.
Dec 21-25: NFL Week 16
Sun Dec 24, 1:00 pm: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots, on CBS.
Dec 28-31: NFL Week 17
Sun Dec 31, 1:00 pm: New York Jets at New England Patriots, on CBS.
Mon Jan 1, 2018, Salary Cap: clubs must provide the amount, if any, of their 2017 cap room to be credited towards their 2018 team salary.
Jan 1-Feb 5: Once a team’s season is over they can sign practice squad players to futures contracts.
Jan 1-7: Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that have byes in the Wild Card games may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the Wild Card games.
Jan 6-7: Wild Card Playoff Games.
Mon Jan 8: college football national championship game.
Jan 7-14: Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that won their Wild Card games may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the Divisional Playoff games.
Jan 13-14: Division Round Playoff Games.
Mon Jan 15: Deadline for college players that are underclassmen to apply for special eligibility. A list of players who are accepted into the NFL Draft will be sent to clubs on January 19.
Sat Jan 20: East-West Shrine Game, St. Petersburg FL.
Sun Jan 21: Conference Championship Games.
Sat Jan 27: Senior Bowl, Mobile AL.
Sun Jan 28: Pro Bowl, Orlando FL.
Sun Jan 28: An assistant coach whose team is participating in the Super Bowl, who has previously interviewed for another club’s head coaching job, may have a second interview with such club no later than the Sunday preceding the Super Bowl.
Tue Jan 30: Deadline for NFL clubs to try out and negotiate with CFL players whose 2017 contracts are due to expire.
Sun Feb 4: Super Bowl 52, Minneapolis MN.
Mon Feb 5: Waiver system begins for 2018.
Tue Feb 6: Hopefully another parade through the streets of Boston.
Tue Feb 13: Teams may begin to sign players whose 2017 CFL contracts have expired. Players under contract to a CFL club for the 2018 season or who have an option for the 2018 season are not eligible to be signed.
Wed Feb 14: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.