Important NFL dates, offseason calendar for the 2020 Saints

John Hendrix

The 2019 New Orleans Saints season is in the books after suffering a crushing overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card round. The team turned in a very good 13-3 regular season campaign, overcoming all sorts of adversity in the process. However, the playoff game presented too many issues that they simply couldn't overcome. As we look forward to a new season, here's an offseason calendar of events that are relevant for New Orleans and football fans.

January

  • January 11-12: Divisional Playoff Round
  • January 12: Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that won their Wild Card games may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games.
  • January 17: Deadline for college players who are underclassmen to apply for special eligibility. A list of underclassmen who have been approved for entry into the 2020 NFL Draft will be sent to clubs on January 21.
  • January 18: East-West Shrine Bowl, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
  • January 18: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
  • January 19: AFC/NFC Championship Games
  • January 25: Senior Bowl, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
  • January 26: NFL Pro Bowl, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
  • January 31: Deadline for NFL clubs to try out and negotiate with CFL players whose 2019 contracts are due to expire at 12:00 noon, New York time, on February 11, 2020.

February

  • February 2: Super Bowl LIV, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida
  • February 3: Waiver system begins for 2020.
  • February 11: Beginning at 12 p.m. ET, NFL clubs may begin to sign players whose 2019 CFL contracts have expired. Players under contract to a CFL club for the 2020 season or who have an option for the 2020 season are not eligible to be signed.
  • February 24-March 2: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • February 25: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

March

  • March 10: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
  • March 16-18: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2019 player contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 18. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 18.
  • March 18: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, clubs must exercise options for 2020 on all players who have option clauses in their 2019 contracts.
  • March 18: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
  • March 18: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2019 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
  • March 18: Top 51 begins. All clubs must be under the 2020 salary cap prior to 4:00 p.m. ET. All 2019 player contracts will expire at that time. Trading period for 2020 begins at 4:00 p.m. ET after expiration of all 2019 contracts.
  • March 18: The 2020 league year and free agency period begin at 4:00 p.m. ET. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 4:00 p.m. and 11:59:59 p.m. ET on March 18.
  • March 18: Trading period for 2020 begins at 4:00 p.m. ET after expiration of all 2019 contracts.
  • March 29-April 1: Annual League Meeting, Palm Beach, Florida.

April

  • April 6: Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2019 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
  • April 17: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.
  • April 20: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
  • April 23-25: 2020 NFL Draft, Las Vegas, Nevada.

May

  • May 1-4: Clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
  • May 5: Deadline for prior club to send “May 5 Tender” to its unsigned Unrestricted Free Agents. If the player has not signed a player contract with a club by July 22 or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later, he may negotiate or sign a player contract from that date until the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, at 4:00 p.m. ET only with his prior club.
  • May 8-11: Clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
  • May 11: Rookie Football Development Programs begin.
  • May 14-17: NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Invited Rookies (typically, first and/or second-round selections) must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. Such players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days, and minicamps during this period.
  • May 19-20: Spring League Meeting, Marina Del Ray, California.

June

  • June 1: Deadline for prior club to send “June 1 Tender” to its unsigned Restricted Free Agents who received a qualifying offer for a right of first refusal only in order for such player to be subject to the CBA’s “June 15 Tender” provision.
  • June 15: Deadline for club to withdraw qualifying offer to Restricted Free Agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting “June 15 Tender” of one-year contract at 110 percent of the player’s prior-year Paragraph 5 Salary (with all other terms of his prior-year contract carried forward unchanged).
  • Late June: Rookie Transition Program to be held at individual clubs. Attendance is mandatory for all rookies.

July

  • July 15: At 4:00 p.m. ET, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one- year contract with his prior club for the 2020 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.
  • Mid-July: Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for Veteran players.
    • Veteran players (defined as a player with at least one pension-credited season) other than quarterbacks or “injured players” (as defined in CBA Article 21, Section 6) may report to a club’s preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the club’s first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later. 
    • Veteran quarterbacks and injured players may be required to report to the club’s preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately prior to the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players, provided the club has already opened (or simultaneously opens) its official preseason training camp for all rookies and first-year players. 
    • A three-day acclimation period will apply to players who are on a club’s roster up to and including the mandatory veteran reporting date. Players who rejoin the roster after that date may practice (including wearing pads) and play immediately after passing a physical.
  • July 22: Signing period ends for Unrestricted Free Agents to whom a “May 5 Tender” was made by prior club. After this date and until 4:00 p.m. ET on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.
  • July 22: Signing period ends for Transition Players with outstanding tenders. After this date and until 4:00 p.m. ET on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, Prior Club has exclusive negotiating rights.

August

  • August 6: Hall of Fame Game, Canton, Ohio.
  • August 6-9: Hall of Fame Weekend, Canton, Ohio.
  • August 11: Deadline for players under contract to report to their clubs to earn an accrued season for free agency.
  • August 11: If a drafted rookie has not signed with his club by this date, he cannot be traded to any other club in 2020, and may sign a player contract only with the drafting club until the day of the Draft in the 2021 League Year.

September

  • September 5: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.
  • September 5: Simultaneously with the cut-down to 53, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non- Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List.
  • September 6: Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12 p.m. ET.
  • September 6: Upon receipt of the Personnel Notice at approximately 1:00 p.m. ET, clubs may establish a practice squad of 10 players. No club, including the player’s prior club, will be permitted to sign a player to a practice player contract until all clubs have received simultaneous notification via the above Personnel Notice that such player’s prior NFL player contract has been terminated via the waiver system.
  • September 10: At 12:00 a.m. ET, the Top 51 Rule expires for all NFL clubs.
  • September 10, 13-14: Regular Season Week 1.
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