Here are the important 2022 NFL offseason dates fans should know

Important 2022 NFL offseason dates fans should know originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Los Angeles Rams are Super Bowl Champions. That means that, while the city of L.A. rejoices, the rest of us have to endure several painful months without NFL football.

The upcoming months may be without actual NFL games, but there are still plenty of critical dates on the calendar as teams prepare for the 2022 season in the fall.

While coronavirus is still of crucial importance in dealing with offseason activities, the NFL hopes the dates set forth for OTAs, preseason and others will remain unaltered. Thirty-two teams will gear up to hoist the Lombardi Trophy next February.

Whatever the offseason looks like, we do have a sense of a few key moments and when they are scheduled to happen.

Dates to know:

March 1-7 — NFL Combine: The NFL Combine is usually one of the draft-centered highlights of the offseason, as teams and coaches will get a microscopic look at some of the best college talents in the nation. This year, the combine takes place in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts.

March 8 — deadline to apply franchise tag: Commanders guard Brandon Scherff is a key player to watch as teams have until Mar. 8 to place a franchise tag. More on the franchise tag later in the summer…

March 14-16 — negotiations begin with UFAs: Undrafted free agents can begin to negotiate contracts with teams, though no contracts are eligible to become official until 3 p.m. on March 16. 

March 16 — free agency and trading period officially begin: Here we go: the big show begins. All hell breaks loose as free agents like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and others can sign contracts either with their current club or any of the other 31 NFL teams. The trading period also begins at 3 p.m. after expiration of all 2021 contracts.

April 18 — returning head coaches begin offseason programs: Both the Commanders and the Ravens can begin offseason workout programs, as both Ron Rivera and John Harbaugh are returning to steer the ship.

April 28-30 — NFL Draft: Washington holds the 11th overall pick, while the Ravens will pick 14th. There are plenty of directions either franchise can go, including draft day trades.

May 2 — deadline for teams to exercise fifth-year options: For Washington they must make a decision on Montez Sweat’s contract by May 2, as he is the only remaining player in D.C. who was drafted in the first round of 2019.

May 6-9 or 13-16 — rookie minicamps: Both Washington and Baltimore can hold three-day rookie minicamps on one of the two weekends after the draft.

May 23-26 — First session of OTA offseason workouts: Squads from across the NFL get their first real, in-depth, up-close look at the players who will take the field come preseason time and beyond.

May 31-June 2: Second session of OTA offseason workouts.

June 6-8: Third session of OTA offseason workouts.

June 14-16 — Mandatory minicamp: You won’t want to miss this. In fact, if you’re a player, you’re contractually required to be there. Get those reps in and impress coaches for your shot at making the 53-man squad.

July 15 — Franchise Tag Deadline: Teams must either come to a long-term contract agreement with their franchise-tagged player, or the player can only sign a one-year contract with the team.

Mid-July (Dates TBD) — Training Camp begins: Veteran players can report no earlier than 15 days prior to the team’s first preseason game. Rookies can report up to a week earlier than veterans.

early-mid August (dates TBD) — NFL preseason begins: Players who need to prove their talents under the bright lights get their first chance to do so in the NFL’s revamped and shortened three-game preseason slate.

September (dates TBD) — NFL regular season kicks off: The NFL will begin its 2022 regular season in September.

Next season may seem far away for now, but these dates will start popping up before you know it.

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