NFL Offseason Calendar

Take a look at some of the important dates before the start of the 2012 season.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Categories: Garrett Downing

Life in the NFL never takes a break.
Soon after Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to New England in the AFC championship, Ravens brass already started to move ahead to next season.

Front office personnel and members of the coaching staff left Monday for Mobile, Ala., to get a look at some college football’s top talent competing in this year’s Senior Bowl.
Now that the 2011-12 season is behind them, focus over the next few months will be on free agency and the draft. The offseason can be one of the busiest times in the NFL, and will provide you extensive coverage for all of the offseason activities.
Here is a look at some of the important dates on NFL’s offseason calendar:
Jan. 23-28: Senior Bowl, Mobile, Ala.
Some of the best senior football players will compete in a week of practice in front of NFL scouts and general managers. The actual game takes a secondary role to the practice and drills that the scouts and media are able to watch and assess. 
Feb. 20 – March 5: Teams Can Apply Franchise Tags
This time will be key for the Ravens, as there is speculation that they may apply the franchise tag to free agent running back Ray Rice, effectively signing him to a one-year deal. Signing a player to the franchise tag guarantees that he gets paid a salary that averages the five highest paid players at his position. Teams can use one franchise tag per season, but if they don’t, then that player is able to sign with any team when free agency begins. In addition to using the franchise tag, the Ravens could also sign Rice to a long term contract to keep him from hitting the free-agent market.
Feb. 22-28: NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis, Ind.
The top draft prospects and scouts from around the country will converge on Indianapolis for the most important single showcase event before the NFL Draft. Prospects need to be invited to attend the combine, and they get tested in a variety of areas, including size, speed, strength and limited football drills. Teams also conduct one-on-one interviews with prospects to determine which players would fit into their system. A regional combine will be held at the Ravens facility on Feb. 11.

February-March: Individual College Workouts
College teams from around the country will hold open workouts for their draft prospects. Ravens scouts and front office personnel will attend a handful of these workouts to get a closer look at some of the players they may be interested in drafting. 
March 13 at 4 p.m.: Start of Free Agency
Players and agents are allowed to begin discussions with teams from around the league. Once free agency begins, unrestricted free agents are able to sign with any team. The days after the start of the free- agency period are typically some of the busiest for the entire year in terms of transactions.   
March 25-28: NFL Owners Meetings, Palm Beach, Fl.
NFL owners and representatives from all 32 teams come together for the annual meeting, where new rules are discussed and details of the upcoming season are set in place. 
Mid April: Offseason Workouts
Some of the Ravens players will be back in the building for the offseason training program. As part of the collective bargaining agreement signed last year, each team is only able to hold 10 offseason training activities (OTA’s). Before this time, players can use the team’s training facility, or they can work out on their own. 

April 26-28: NFL Draft, New York City
The draft is spread out over the course of three days, with round one on Thursday night, rounds two-three on Friday and rounds four-seven on Saturday. The Ravens have the 29th selection in the first round this year. 
May-June: Rookie Camps
Once the Ravens have their 2012 draft class, then those players can start using the team’s training facility, getting familiarized with the playbook and competing for a starting job. The rookie camps and minicamps are a way for the coaches to get a closer look at the new players, before everyone arrives for the full training camp. 
Late July: Training Camps Begin
Teams across the NFL will get back to work. Last year the Ravens held an abbreviated training camp at their facility in Owings Mills due to the lockout, and they will continue to hold camp in Owings Mills this season rather than returning to Westminster.
Sept. 9: First NFL Sunday
The NFL season gets into full swing. The first regular-season game will be held Thursday, Sept.6, but the rest of the 30 teams will open their season this Sunday.

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