With the offseason officially upon us, it’s time to take a look at some of the important events that will be happening for the Minnesota Vikings (and 31 other decidedly less important NFL teams) over the course of the next few months. It should be a relatively eventful offseason for fans of the purple, so let’s take a minute to lay out where everything’s happening. We’ll go month-by-month here.
13 February - Teams can begin signing CFL players whose contracts have expired.
20 February - This is the first day that teams can designate potential free agents as franchise or transition players. This could end up being a big deal for the Vikings and their quarterback situation.
27 February to 5 March - The annual Underwear Olympics. . .er, the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. . .will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
6 March - If a team is going to use the franchise or transition tag, it must do so by 3:00 PM Central time on this date.
12 March - The “legal tampering” period, which is still a stupid name, officially begins. Teams may enter into negotiations with the agents of players whose contracts expire at the start of the new league year.
14 March - This is the date that the new league year begins, starting at 3:00 PM Central time. All teams must exercise potential 2018 options on players, extend tender offers to any restricted or exclusive rights free agents, and must be under the salary cap with their top 51 salaries by this time.
25 to 28 March - The annual league meetings take place in Orlando, Florida.
2 April - Teams that hired new head coaches can begin their offseason workout programs
16 April - Teams that did not hire a new head coach can begin their offseason workout program
20 April - Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets
26 to 28 April - 2018 NFL Draft takes place. This year’s draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Thank goodness it’s been moved.
4 to 7 May or 11 to 14 May - Teams can hold one post-draft rookie mini-camp from Friday to Sunday or from Saturday to Monday
17 to 20 May - NFL Rookie Premiere
21 to 23 May - NFL Spring Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia
Yeah, pretty much nothing happens in the NFL in June.
16 July - Any franchise player that wants to sign a multi-year contract must do so by 3:00 PM Central on this date. If they have not done so, they can only sign a one-year deal with their current team, and it can not be extended until after the regular season ends.
27 July - Though there hasn’t been an official announcement made yet, this is my best guess for when the Vikings kick off their first Training Camp in Eagan at their new facility.
2 August - Hall of Fame Game takes place in Canton, Ohio. Yes, the game will take place on a Thursday, before the Enshrinement Ceremony. If the Vikings are selected to play in this game, they can start their Training Camp as early as 18 July, as league rules say that camps can start 15 days before the team’s first preseason game.
4 August - Randy Moss gets inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A bunch of other guys will get inducted, too, but who cares about that, honestly?
7 August - If, for whatever reason, a drafted player has not signed with the team that drafted him by this date, he can’t be traded to any other club in 2018.
1 September - All NFL rosters must be reduced to 53 players by 3:00 PM Central on this date. If teams have players on the Physically Unable to Perform or Non-Football Injury lists on this date, they will transition to the regular season PUP/NFI lists and be required to miss the first six games of the regular season.
2 September - Waiver period ends for players released in final cuts and teams can start establishing practice squads.
6 September - Opening night.
9 & 10 September - Opening weekend.
There you have it, folks. Pretty much every important date on the NFL calendar between now and the start of the 2018 NFL regular season.