Super Bowl LIII is a wrap and now we are heading into the long offseason, waiting until we can do this over again. That means preparing for the draft, OTAs, and everything else that goes until the beginning of the season in September.
The NFL has made football a year-round event and there are some important dates prior to the NFL Draft in April you may want to keep your eye on. It won’t be completely dead around these parts as we get to start grinding draft prospects and seeing what other players can supplant Nick Bosa and Josh Allen in mock drafts.
February 19 — First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players
So far there haven’t been any rumblings from the 49ers on a possible franchise tag. If anyone were to get it, kicker Robbie Gould makes the most sense to keep him from leaving for Chicago—or anywhere else. I think the 49ers would let him walk as a favor if he really wanted to go elsewhere, but the tag is an option.
February 26-March 4 — NFL Combine
For those of you wanting to know how Nick Bosa looks, this is our first chance to have a glimpse. It’s also a good chance to see how this year’s crop of quarterbacks do and get an idea on how desperate a quarterback needy team could be. This will determine how desperate a team may get to make a pick. Trades are also talked about here. Nothing can be set in stone until the new league year, but a lot of handshake agreements and discussions can be had. Expect Antonio Brown watch to go absolutely bat-[site-decorum]
March 5 — Deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players
If the 49ers want to franchise Gould or anyone else, this is the absolute last day they can designate a tag. Now, a player does not have to sign that tag by this date, and the team can still get a deal worked out after tagging them. This is simply the last day for a team to actually designate the franchise on someone.
March 11-13 — Free agent tampering period
No contracts can be signed. That’s about all you can’t do. Clubs are permitted to contact free agents and start negotiating contracts and getting things set up. Nothing can be signed or dated until the tampering period ends. That means all that is binding is handshake agreements. Players can back out of deals at any time in this period.
March 13, 1:00 p.m. PT — New league year begins
All free agent contracts, trades, and other fun stuff that are “rumored” to happen can finally be solidified. At that very time, expect a fat slab of news to come out of all the signings across the NFL. Watch your Twitter—it’s a magical time.
At 9 p.m. on March 13, the NFL will release all transactions to clubs. It’s somewhat redundant because everything will have been highlighted hours before, but if you need any other confirmation, there you go.
March 24-27 — Annual League Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona
Owners, coaches and the competition committee have their yearly meetings. The committee will be going over rule changes, arguing for and against updates to the NFL rulebook. Yes, that Saints-Rams pass interference no-call is going to be the big news topic going into this period.
April 1 — Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2018 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
In the NFC West, the Cardinals will begin the offseason training programs early.
April 15 — Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
The offseason workout program begins for the San Francisco 49ers around this point—and everyone else for that matter.
April 19 — Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
If a restricted free agent has been tendered by a club, other clubs can then make their offers. A restricted free agent can sign the offer sheet but they are not signed to that team. Ex. The Denver Broncos placed a low-round tender on running back C.J. Anderson a few years back, the Miami Dolphins then gave him an offer sheet for $18 million, which he signed.
This is the deadline for circumstances like that to happen. Raheem Mostert is the 49ers only RFA.
April 24 — Deadline for prior club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.
Keeping in mind that Anderson example above, it’s time for the team the restricted agent is with to match the offer. In Anderson’s case, Denver saw the $18 million and matched Miami’s offer, keeping him in Denver. If a player is given an offer sheet, and they sign it, this is the deadline for the club to match that offer.
April 25-27 — NFL Draft, Nashville, Tennessee
Welcome to San Francisco, Nick Bosa!