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2024 NFL Offseason Schedule: Dates for franchise tag window, free agency, combine, draft & more

There are plenty of significant dates to be aware of in the offseason as the teams begin to rebuild their rosters for another attempt at winning a title.

The seven-month-long offseason between the NFL Championship and Week 1 is full of action, including free agency, the combine, draft, and much more.

Here are the most important events to look out for this offseason.

Franchise Tag Window: February 20 - March 5

The first action NFL teams can take in the offseason is to designate players with the franchise or transition tag.

Each team is able to name one player who would otherwise become a free agent as their franchise player or transition player.

If the player signs the deal, he earns a one-year contract at a value based on the average of the top five salaries at his position over the previous five years. The transition tag is lower, based on the top 10 salaries.

Teams can still try to sign players given a non-exclusive franchise tag, but the original team has the right to match the terms of their offer.

If they opt not to match, they will receive two first-round draft picks as compensation. Transition players do not bring any compensation if the original club declines to match the offer.

Six players, including Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs and Giants running back Saquon Barkley, were franchise-tagged in 2023, while eight players were tagged in 2022 and 10 in 2021.

Read more: NFL Franchise Tag explained: 2024 candidates, types of franchise tags, values & more

NFL Scouting Combine: February 27 - March 4

The NFL combine sees the top college football prospects working out for NFL scouts, coaches and personnel executives in advance of the draft.

It enables teams to assess the physical abilities and skills of young players in person and also affords them the opportunity to meet with the candidates to get to know them better and assess their suitability to join their teams.

Drills include the 40-yard dash, bench press and other tests of strength and agility. A good workout can see players zooming up mock draft boards, while poor efforts can have the opposite effect and can make the difference between a player being an early draft pick or a late-round selection.

The combine has been held in Indianapolis every year since 1987. Although there has been talk of moving it to another venue, it will continue to be held at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, through at least 2025.

Read more: NFL Combine schedule, events, records & more

NFL free agency opens: March 13

The new NFL year starts on March 13, which is also the day that free agency opens.

That is the first date that teams can officially sign free agents whose contracts have expired with other teams, but some impending moves will have been circulating in the media before the official start date.

Teams are allowed to begin negotiating with available players two days earlier, from March 11, in what is commonly known as the legal tampering period.

The big names who could potentially be on the move this season include wide receivers Tee Higgins (Bengals) and Michael Pittman Jr. (Colts), running backs Saquon Barkley (Giants), Josh Jacobs (Raiders) and Austin Ekeler (Chargers), and pass-rushers Chris Jones (Chiefs), Brian Burns (Panthers) and Josh Allen (Jaguars).

The opening of free agency will also see trades starting to take place.

Read more: NFL free agency tracker

Offseason workouts begin: April 1 - April 15

Teams who have new head coaches, which include the Falcons, Panthers, Chargers, Patriots and Seahawks, are able to begin off-season workouts on April 1.

Teams who have the same head coach as in 2023 cannot begin their workouts until April 15.

This difference is to give the new coaches more time to get players used to their schemes.

NFL Draft: April 25 - 27

The NFL Draft is always one of the highlights of the year and typically takes place across the last weekend of April.

This year, the draft will be taking place in Detroit from April 25 to 27.

The draft is when the best players in college football are selected by NFL teams and fans of struggling teams dream of finding the next superstar who could turn their franchise around.

The draft is a great spectacle and one of the most exciting weekends in the NFL calendar. The Chicago Bears currently hold the number one pick, which they acquired from the Carolina Panthers, who had this season's worst record, due to a trade last year that gave Carolina the pick that they used to select quarterback Bryce Young.

Players currently expected to be selected with the top picks in the draft include quarterbacks Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye, plus wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.

The first round takes place on day one, with the second and third rounds on the second day and rounds four through seven on the final day.

Good players can be found all through the draft as this year's rookie sensation Puka Nacua was a fifth-round pick by the Rams last season and 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy was the very last player selected in 2022.

Read more: NFL Draft dates, schedule, TV, order & more

Rookie minicamp: May 3 - 6 or 10 - 13

Teams are able to hold their three-day rookie minicamps from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday on one of the two weekends following the draft.

The minicamp enables newly signed rookies the chance to get used to their new surroundings and meet their coaches before the veterans arrive.

The dates for this year's veteran player offseason workouts, organized team activities and mandatory mini camps will become known later in the spring.

NFL preseason: August 2024

The NFL preseason sees the teams return to action during training camp, with each team playing three games, except the teams chosen for the Hall of Fame game who play four times.

Preseason runs throughout August and gives fans the chance to see new players in action and also get a first glimpse at the rookies their teams have drafted.

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