The NFL Offseason: What It Is, All the Important Dates, and Some Opportunities for the Teams

The NFL Offseason: What It Is, All the Important Dates, and Some Opportunities for the Teams

Jay Gorgas, Writer

The NFL Offseason is an important time period for NFL teams as they look to improve their team during this time through free agency, trades, and the draft. Siddharth Chandra, Pantherbook reporter and big NFL fan, believes that the point of the free agency and draft is to try and close the gap between the good teams and the bad teams. He says that the term “rebuilding” is used often to describe the bad teams that are trying to improve and he says that the offseason is the perfect time for them to do that. 

The new league year for the NFL starts on March 16 at 4PM. At this time, NFL teams will be able to sign and trade players through free agency as they attempt to make their team better in the offseason.

However, the NFL Offseason process starts well before this date. Each team must have their salary cap below the limit by March 16, the salary cap is a limit on the amount of money teams can spend on their players salaries. The salary cap this year is set at $208.2 million per team. 

Also, legal tampering period, between March 14-16, is the time where teams can negotiate with the agents of free agents prior to the league year actually starting in an effort to get them on their team.

Free agency is the chance for teams to sign players that currently do not have any contract to other teams, there are a lot of big ticket free agents that teams would definitely be looking to capitalize on such as J.C. Jackson (CB), Terron Armstead (OT), Chris Godwin (WR), Von Miller (EDGE) and many other high profile players that are available to sign. 

Trades give the opportunity for teams to swap players, or draft picks, with other teams. Basically, teams trading players are technically trading the players contract, so the team receiving the player will also receive their contract. 

A good recent example of this is the Russell Wilson trade between the Broncos and Seahawks, in which the Broncos gave the Seahawks players and draft picks, and the Broncos received star Quarterback Russell Wilson. This trade makes sense for the Broncos as they have been looking for a good QB ever since Peyton Manning retired, and they hope to have found one in Russell Wilson. 

The NFL Draft is a big event that happens every year and allows teams to sign some up and coming young players generally coming out of college. The Draft process is long, as NFL teams generally look for players to benefit their team all throughout college, and the Draft is when they are able to sign them. 

The NFL combine was the start of the draft process, taking place from March 1-7 in Indianapolis. It was a large scouting event where the players looking to get drafted compete in many physical and mental tests to try and impress the NFL teams. Chandra says that the NFL combine shows the pro teams a baseline athletic performance from each player, and specifically for the athletes, it is a chance for them to experience what professional football is like and to give them a chance to work under pressure.  

The actual Draft is composed of seven rounds in which each NFL team gets to pick once (unless a draft pick trade takes place) with the top players going in the opening rounds. Players that aren’t picked in any of the seven rounds become undrafted free agents, players that are eligible for the NFL but weren’t drafted. Teams are still able to negotiate and sign them even though they weren’t drafted. The Draft this year will take place in Las Vegas from April 28-30. 

Chandra also gave some ideas on big opportunities that different teams in the NFL can take advantage of in free agency. Close to home, Chandra talks about the situation around Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson. He believes that Jackson will be a huge opportunity for teams like the Cincinnati Bengals that need a lockdown cornerback. Which unfortunately would leave the Patriots in a tough situation regarding their defense.