New England Patriots

A general view of the NFL logo on the field is seen before the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

It’s officially the 2022 off-season in the NFL, but as you already know if you follow league, there almost is no off-season. The calendar remains packed with big events and important dates. It’s time for a refresher on what to know about and when the big events are happening.

We don’t have actual football games, which count in the standings, for about seven months, and that’s always a bummer. But between free agency, trades, the draft, and team training camps, there is almost always something worth fans’ attention.

Maybe you have to plan things around these big events, or perhaps you just want to know ahead of time. The NFL calendar is always worth knowing for anyone who’s into the sport, and 2022 is no different.

  • Football season may be over, but there’s still plenty to talk about for next year. Here are the key dates on the 2022 NFL calendar to know about as we head into the off-season.

    March 1-7: NFL Scouting Combine

    New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and friend Vinnie Colelli look on during the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 20, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

    New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and friend Vinnie Colelli look on during the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 20, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

    The first big party of the year for prospective players, as well as GMs, coaches, scouts, and agents. And reporters sniffing around for nuggets of information from all of them. The top draft prospects separate themselves in these drills, which figure to be more important and involved than they were in the more COVID-limited 2020 and 2021 seasons.

    For draft enthusiasts, it’ll be their first chance to pore over the performances of their favorite prospects. For the casual fan, it’s a chance to get the first look at the top players to know.

    The Combine is also an opportunity for more unheralded draft prospects to rise up the boards. But the event remains invite-only, so you’re guaranteed to see the best of the best on the TV broadcasts. (Yes, the Combine is on TV.)

  • March 8: Franchise tag deadline

    This is the last day of the league year that teams can place the franchise tag on impending unrestricted free agents. Tagged players are typically coming out of their rookie contracts having significantly outperformed them, making the value of a franchise tag lower than that of a long-term deal.

    Franchise tags are one-year deals for a set number, which varies by position. Teams still have the option to trade players after tagging them. Over The Cap has a list of projected totals for the franchise tag and transition tag. The latter grants a team the right to match or refuse an offer sheet that a tagged player signs with another team, but is rarely used.

    Notable NFL players who should be considered candidates for the franchise tag include Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson, Saints safety Marcus Williams, Chiefs tackle Orlando Brown, and Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki.

  • March 14-16: “Legal Tampering” begins

    This is where it really gets fun. In recent years, players signings had begun to inundate the news right at the official start of free agency, exposing the plain reality that teams, players, and agents had done all kinds of negotiating (read: tampering) before anyone had officially become a fre agent.

    Thus, the NFL introduced the three-day “legal tampering” period in 2013, allowing players and teams to “begin” negotiating before the start of free agency. But most recently, in 2021, signings were announced at the outset of that.

    This is all to say: mark your calendar for legal tampering, because that is when most of the big free agency news will drop.

  • March 16: Free agency and league year begins

    All pending unrestricted free agents become official at 4 p.m. ET on March 16. Most of the major free-agent signings across the league will have already been reported by then, but this is when teams can officially announce their moves.

    That doesn’t mean free agency will be over so soon. The open market will remain deep. It’ll just be mostly mid-level free agents and below after this point.

  • March 27-30: NFL League Meeting

    President and Chief opperating officer Jonathan Kraft answers questions from the media at the NFL Annual Meetings at the Roosevelt HotelÊ on March 21, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite a NFL owners imposed lockout in effect since March 12 the league is conducting it's annual owners meeting in New Orleans(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

    President and Chief operating officer Jonathan Kraft answers questions from the media at the NFL Annual Meetings at the Roosevelt Hotel on March 21, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite a NFL owners imposed lockout in effect since March 12 the league is conducting it’s annual owners meeting in New Orleans(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

    The league meeting is the annual summit of owners, execs, and coaches, particularly those involved with the competition committee. The most newsworthy items from the league meeting are usually league-wide rule changes, which are discussed and sometimes agreed upon for implementation.

    In light of controversies emanating from the 2021 season, one can expect overtime rules to be heavily debated during the league meeting, and perhaps changed.

  • April 4: Offseason workouts may begin

    This is only for first-year head coaches. They will be allowed, but not required, to begin off-season workouts with their new teams on this date. Teams with returning head coaches can begin their off-season programs as early as April 18.

  • April 20: Draft deadlines begin

    This marks the last day that teams can bring draft-eligible prospects to their facilities for a physical. Most draft prep is likely done by this point. The football world will already be filled with speculation and rumors on teams’ interest in particular players, and where the top prospects in the first round will land.

    The day before the draft, April 27, is the deadline for teams to “time, test, and interview” prospects.

  • April 22: Restricted free agent deadlines begin

    Restricted free agents have until April 22 to sign an offer sheet with a new team, and their respective teams would have until the 27th to match or decline it. Offer sheets are relatively rare, mainly because of the compensation required and the types of players available in restricted free agency.

    If it’s a good-enough player, his team will extend a qualifying offer for a first-round tender, and thus would receive a first-round pick in return if they decline to match. At the same time, players are only eligible for restricted free agency in the first place if they have accrued three seasons at the time of their expired contract, so they are never players who went high in the draft.

    So, offer sheets are typically saved for players who have significantly outperformed their draft status and become worth acquiring for a high pick. There are some notable RFAs in 2022 who could be tendered at a lower round and become candidates for more affordable draft pick compensation, including a trio of wide receivers: Green Bay’s Allen Lazard, Miami’s Preston Williams, and New Orleans’ Deonte Harris.

  • April 28-30: 2022 NFL Draft

    CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 29: Mac Jones poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell onstage after being selected 15th by the New England Patriots during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    CLEVELAND, OHIO – APRIL 29: Mac Jones poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell onstage after being selected 15th by the New England Patriots during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    Just about every NFL fan would say the Super Bowl is the biggest day of the year, and many would put the draft at No. 2. It’s the culmination of months of player workouts, team scouting, and media/fan speculation and discussion. Several of the top picks are likely already known by this point, but that doesn’t take away from the excitement and odd pageantry that comes with the event.

  • And then … ?

    After the draft is concluded with rounds 4-7 on April 30, the news cycle moves on to undrafted free agent signings in the ensuing days. But off-season workouts have already begun by this point, leaving football commentators with no shortage of things to talk about well into springtime.

    May will likely mark the start of mandatory minicamp for all 32 teams. Those dates, as well as training camp, have yet to be announced. But those in the football world will have plenty to chew on from February through April.

    If you still haven’t found the information you need on the 2022 off-season, there’s plenty more to know at the official NFL website.