The NFL offseason calendar has a number of events that hardly make it look like the offseason. Sure, there aren’t any games being played, but the rosters are changing and clubs are grading and ranking the next influx of young talent set to enter the league in the draft.
Here’s a look at the upcoming dates to remember and how they could impact the Bills this offseason as they enter their second year under head coach Sean McDermott.
*Feb. 13th – Beginning at 12 pm ET, NFL clubs may begin to sign players whose 2017 CFL contracts have expired. Players under contract to a CFL clubs for the 2018 season or have an option for the 2018 season are not eligible. *The Bills, like other NFL teams, do scout the Canadian Football League. Whether they like any of the CFL talent enough to sign them will be known sooner rather than later.
*Feb. 20th – First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players *Though the Bills are not expected to make use of the franchise or transition tag, the use of the tag by other clubs could prompt Buffalo to consider different options. Knowing the price to pay for a non-exclusive tagged player, the Bills are unlikely to part with draft capital for any such player.
*Feb. 27th-Mar. 5th – NFL Scouting Combine – Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN *As popular as televised 40 times and vertical leaps may be for fans, the Bills and other clubs are more concerned with nailing down the medical background of all 322 prospects in attendance for the week in Indy. Buffalo will also be carefully choosing which 60 prospects they’ll want to sit down with for 15 minutes in a personal interview setting.
*March 6th – 4 pm – Deadline to designed Franchise or Transition Players *These designations by other clubs can aid the Bills in accurately identifying which positional needs will be less of a priority for other teams both in free agency and the draft.
Mar. 12th-14th – 12 pm – Beginning at noon ET on March 12th and ending at 3:59:59 pm ET on March 14th, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of player who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of the 2017 player contracts at 4 pm on March 14th. A contract, however, cannot be signed with the new club until 4 pm ET on March 14th.
During this two-day period no direct contact is allowed between a prospective UFA and any employee or representative of a club, other than that player’s current club.
The Bills are likely to be busy during this period when it comes to some of their own veteran free agents who are coming off one-year minimum deals. They may also have a prospective free agent or two from other NFL clubs that they could have their eye on.
*March 14th – Prior to 4 pm ET, clubs must submit qualifying offers to all Restricted Free Agents to retain right of first refusal and minimum salary tenders to Exclusive Rights free agents to retain for player rights. *
Buffalo has four Exclusive Rights free agents. Nick O’Leary, Lafayette Pitts, Logan Thomas and Eddie Yarbrough.
*March 14th – Free agency period and trading period begins at 4 pm ET. *
Buffalo has 18 unrestricted free agents. Trades could be another way the Bills look to enhance their roster and possibly improve their salary cap status.
March 25th-28th – Annual league meeting. Orlando, FL.
April 16th – Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 26th-28th – The 2018 NFL draft – AT&T Stadium – Arlington, TX
Buffalo has eight draft choices, including a pair in rounds one, two and five.
May 4th-7th – Clubs can begin to hold their post-draft, three-day Rookie Minicamp from Friday to Sunday or Saturday to Monday.