We have continued to cover NFL Mock drafts and yesterday focused on the NFL.com’s Top 25 Free Agents and then a look at 3 targets for the Cleveland Browns for each position/unit. Today we look at the key important 2014 NFL Off-Season dates.
February 17th - First day for teams to designate franchise or transition players.
- The Browns will have a decision to make regarding TJ Ward and Alex Mack. Current belief is that Ward will be franchised tagged unless a multi-year deal can be worked out.
February 19th – 25th - NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
- The NFL’s annual meat market. Teams will be looking at measurables, interviewing players and unofficially starting negotiations with agents for up coming free agents. The Browns will hope to get a look at the upcoming QB class, often they chose not to participate in drills, as well as interview draft hopefuls as they enter their most important draft in, well maybe since their return.
March 8th - Free Agent Negotiations Can Begin
- Clubs cannot sign a player till the 11th but this time can setup many of the big name deals. Who will the Browns fly to see the minute the negotiating period begins? Who can they get wrapped up without letting them visit another team? Will the Browns be ultra aggressive to start to deal with some of the negativity of the early part of the off-season? Many expect so.
March 11th - Free Agents Can Sign
- Much of the big agreements are know by the 11th so not a great deal of Christmas Morning surprise on the 11th. The 3 day window allows players and agents to play teams off each other before they can officially sign. Will the Browns focus on the offense this year after spending much of their energy on the defense?
March 23rd – 26th - Owners Meetings in Orlando
- Trades and contracts are negotiated here as well but the biggest thing tends to be rulings from the Competition Committee on how they are changing the game. Will concussions continue to rule over these changes? What about taking away kickoffs? Any changes to the replay and challenge system?
April 7th - New Head Coaches Begin OTAs
- New head coaches get a jump of 2 weeks on other returning head coaches to begin OTAs. New coach Mike Pettine will begin to install his version of the hybrid defense and Kyle Shanahan and crew get their first crack at the offense, even before drafting what will likely be their future franchise QB. Brian Hoyer’s health at this time will be paramount.
May 2 - Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to Sign Offer Sheet with Other Teams
- The Browns should have limited number of important restricted free agents but could be interested in young talent from other teams. Signing restricted players is risky as teams tie up cap space waiting for the original team to decide to match or not.
May 8th – 10th - NFL Draft in New York
- A day that many Browns fans have become used to celebrating as much as Christmas morning. The Browns have two 1st rounders, two 3rd rounders and two 4th rounders in their 10 overall picks. The Browns have a chance to dominate and control the draft. Either through using their picks or moving around on the board.
What day are you looking most forward to? Start of free agency? The team’s first OTAs under Pettine? The NFL Draft? Or are you just tired of the off-season and “Wake me when the games start” at this point? Share your thoughts below in our comments section.