NFL's Key dates for 2024

With Super Bowl XVIII in the rear view mirror, the 2023 NFL season is officially a done deal. 

Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs for winning a second consecutive Lombardi Trophy.

Moving on. . . . Welcome 2024. Here are dates, events to mark on your calendar.

Throughout the next several months, teams will adjust their roster, coaching staff, and styles of play to get ready for the new season. In the space below, we're highlighting all the key dates and events to watch out for as the league prepares for the 2024 season.

Pre-free agency

  • Feb. 20: Franchise/transition tag window opens
  • March 5: Franchise/transition tag deadline (4 p.m. ET) 

NFL Combine (Indianapolis)

The 2024 NFL Combine will take place Feb. 26-March 4. The specific start times (Eastern) for each day's on-field workouts are as follows:  

  • Feb. 29 at 3 p.m. -- Defensive linemen, linebackers
  • March 1 at 3 p.m. -- Defensive backs, tight ends
  • March 2 at 1 p.m. -- Quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs
  • March 3 at 1 p.m. -- Offensive linemen

The first big date is coming up soon, as NFL teams will be able to utilize the franchise and/or transition tag beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 20. That window lasts until March 5, about a week before free agency opens. 

In the interim, we'll have the NFL Combine, as hundreds of prospects will get measured, tested, interviewed, and worked out at and around Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Obviously, this is one of the biggest events on the offseason calendar, as it serves to both get teams a better look at prospects and set the stage for free agency soon after. 

Free agency

  • March 11-13: Legal tampering period (Noon ET Monday to 4 p.m. ET Wednesday)
  • March 13: 2024 league year opens (4 p.m. ET)

The necessity of the so-called "legal tampering period" aside, it is going to open at noon on Monday, March 11 and last until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, at which point the new league year officially begins and teams can officially sign and/or trade players. Many deals are agreed to during the tampering period, but they cannot become official until after 4 p.m. on Wednesday. We've seen several times that players can -- and sometimes do -- reverse course even if they came to an agreement during the tampering period.

Offseason

  • March 24-27: Annual league meeting in Orlando, Florida 
  • April 1: Teams with a first-year head coach can begin offseason workout programs
  • April 15: Teams with a returning head coach can begin offseason workout programs

NFL owner's meetings always bring with them some drama, and you can expect news about possible rules changes and more to come out of those meetings. 

The NFL gives teams with new head coaches a jump on their offseason workouts, as it typically takes those teams a bit longer to get up to speed. Teams with returning head coaches don't get to begin offseason programs until two weeks after those with a new head coach. 

Pre-NFL Draft

  • April 17: Deadline for NFL Draft prospects to meet at team facilities
  • April 19: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets 
  • April 24: Deadline to RFA match offer sheets; Deadline to meet with NFL Draft prospects at any location

In the final week before the NFL Draft, teams can wrap up their last meetings with prospects, but in those final seven days, they are not allowed to have the prospects come to their facility. They can meet with them virtually or at an outside location. 

NFL Draft (Detroit)

  1. April 25: Round 1
  2. April 26: Round 2-3
  3. April 27: Round 4-7

You know how this goes. The draft has become a three-day extravaganza that travels to a different location each season. This year it is headed to Detroit, where Lions fans will surely be appropriately amped up after their team's best season in years. The Chicago Bears are already on the clock with the No. 1 overall selection, which they have captured for the second consecutive year. (They traded last year's pick to the Panthers.) 

Post-NFL Draft

  • May 2: Deadline for teams to pick up fifth-year option for 2021 first-round draft picks 
  • May 3-6 or May 10-13: Three-day rookie minicamp 

The 2021 draft saw quarterbacks go with each of the top three picks as Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance came off the board. There are some no-brainer candidates for players whose options will surely be picked up (Lawrence, Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Penei Sewell, Jaycee Horn, Patrick Surtain II, DeVonta Smith, Micah Parsons, Rashawn Slater, etc.) but some others could surprise.

Soon after those decisions are made, the players selected in the 2024 NFL Draft will report to team facilities for a four-day minicamp session. It is up to teams which of those two windows they want to utilize. 

2024 season

  • Early May: NFL schedule release
  • May 20-22: Spring league meeting
  • Late May to early June: Organized Team Activities (OTAs)
  • July 17: Franchise tag deadline (4 p.m. ET)
  • Mid-to-late July: Training camps open

We already know which teams will play each other (and where), thanks to the NFL's rotating schedule rules. We just don't yet know when those games will happen. We'll find out for sure in the first or second week of May. 

The rest of the offseason, with the exception of the franchise tag deadline (which is the deadline for tagged players to sign a long-term deal with that franchise) is more up in the air at the moment. When dates become available, we'll fill them in here. 

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