The NFL announced this week an update to their 2023 league year and offseason schedule. While a lot of the major events, like the start of free agency and the NFL Draft, were already known, some of the administrative pieces are now falling into place. How does the league get from today to the start of the regular season on September 7?
The first item on the list of important dates in the NFL Scouting Combine. The annual convergence of team officials and college prospects continues to be held in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium and will feature all of the on-field workouts we have come to expect, including the 225-pound bench press, the 40-yard dash, and the position-specific drills. This year’s Scouting Combine begins next week, starting on February 28 and running through March 6.
The next day, Mach 7, the deadline for exercising a franchise or transition tag on a player will arrive. These options are used on players who have an expiring contract, but their current team is hoping to either retain them for next year or potentially acquire draft-pick compensation if the player joins another team.
The “legal tampering period” comes up next on the off-season schedule. This two-day period, running from noon on March 13 through to 4 p.m. ET on March 15, is officially called a “negotiating period” and allows teams and player representatives to begin contract negotiations. Teams and players are not allowed to communicate directly and no contract can be completed during this time.
At 4 p.m. ET on Mach 15, the legal tampering period ends as the new league year begins. With the league’s calendar moving to 2023, player contracts move to the next year on their deal, or come to an end making the player a free agent. Trades can be executed between teams and the 2023 salary cap goes into effect.
The annual league meetings will be held March 26-29 in Phoenix, Arizona. These meetings usually include tweaks and changes to rules for the upcoming season. The topics of conversation this year could include a look at the roughing the passer penalty, where it felt last year saw an increase in penalties to the point that nearly any time a quarterback was touched, a flag was expected.
The league’s offseason training programs will begin on April 3 for teams that hired new head coaches this year. The teams with returning head coaches will have their offseason programs begin two weeks later on April 17.
While the teams are starting to get their players back into their facilities, the focus for the front offices will be on the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. The final day for teams to host prospective draft selections at their team facilities is on April 19.
On the free agency front, restricted free agents must sign offer sheets by April 21, with teams having to make decisions on any right of first refusal situations for restricted free agents by April 26.
Also on April 26, teams will have their last chance to interview draft prospects or conduct physical exams.
The NFL Draft will be held April 27-29 in Kansas City.
Following the three-day, seven-round selection process for rookies entering the league in 2023, a key deadline for players selected in 2020 arrives. On May 2, teams face the deadline to decide to exercise the fifth-year options on players who were selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Rookie minicamps, a three-day introduction to the team, the league, and being a professional football player, may be held from either May 5-8 or May 12-15.
While not listed on the key dates schedule from the league, the 2023 regular season schedule is likely going to be released sometime around mid-May. While the league had previously released the schedule in April, they moved it to May last year to add another month of the offseason with a major NFL event.
The NFL’s Spring League Meeting will be held May 22-24 in Minneapolis.
Training camp dates for each team have yet to be set, but likely will start somewhere around July 26. The 2023 Hall of Fame Game, the first preseason game each year, will be held on August 3, with the teams still to be announced.
The 2023 regular season will begin on September 7, most likely with the Kansas City Chiefs, as the defending Super Bowl championship, hosting the Thursday night kickoff to the game. The season will continue over 18 weeks before the playoffs start on January 13, 2024. Super Bowl LVIII will be held on February 11, 2024, at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise/Las Vegas, Nevada.