One week ago today, the Kansas City Chiefs woke up as world champions — and up to six weeks behind other clubs when it comes to preparing for the NFL’s 2020 season. One of the teams to get a head start on the Super Bowl winners are the New England Patriots: even though they were coming off a 12-4 regular season, they were already eliminated from playoff contention on wild card weekend for the first time since January 2010.
In order to return to the game’s biggest stage, the team therefore needs to take advantage of its longer-than-usual offseason. And as a look at the offseason calendar shows, the next major events are right around the corner for both the Patriots and the rest of the NFL.
February 11: Beginning at 12:00 noon, New York time, NFL clubs may begin to sign players whose 2020 CFL contracts have expired. Players under contract to a CFL club for the 2020 season or who have an option for the 2020 season are not eligible to be signed.
February 24–March 2: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.
February 25: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 10: Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 16-17: Legal Tampering Period
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 2019 player contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 18.
March 18: The 2020 league year and free agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must exercise options for 2020 on all players who have option clauses in their 2019 contracts.
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation
Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2019 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
Top 51 Rule begins. All clubs must be under the 2020 Salary Cap prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time.
All 2019 player contracts will expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
April 6: Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2019 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
April 17: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.
April 20: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 23-25: 2020 NFL Draft, Las Vegas, Nevada.
April 27: Beginning this date, NFL clubs may request permission to visit with, try out, or sign any player who was under contract to the XFL at the conclusion of the XFL season.
Further down the line
The Patriots and other NFL teams will hold rookie minicamps in early May (either May 1-4 or May 8-11), with mandatory minicamp likely taking place in early June. In late July, finally, teams across their league will open their 2020 training camps — kicking its preparation for the upcoming season into another gear.