With the Super Bowl over, the Seahawks now must begin preparing for next season. Here’s an outline of important dates in the upcoming offseason.
Feb. 20th: Franchise tag can be applied.
NFL teams can now apply the franchise tag to any of their own big name free agents they want to secure for next season, but there’s no reason for them to at this point. Tagging a player now eliminates any negociating power a team might have over any other of their free agents. Teams are better off continuing to try and get deals worked out for their star players and only using the tag as a last resort at the deadline to use the tag.
For the Seahawks, only Marshawn Lynch is really a candidate to be franchised. At $8 million the price is tolerable for his level of production. Red Bryant’s name has been tossed around as a possible candidate, but I doubt the Seahawks are willing to give Bryant over $10 mil/year for player who’s only on the field for about 65% of the teams defensive plays. During this part of the offseason, most players who are going to re-sign with their current team will do so.
Feb. 22nd – 28th: NFL Combine
The last week in features the most overrated aspect of the draft process. NFL.com and NFL Network will have live coverage of the workouts. This is the point when teams make the biggest mistakes in the draft process. players that rocket up draft boards at the combine are usually busts, and those that fall a long way tend to be steals.
Also taking place at the Combine will be the official coin flip that decides if the Seahawks get the 11th or 12th pick in the draft.
March 3rd: Deadline for Colt’s decision on paying Peyton Manning his $28 million bonus
If they choose not to pay him, they must cut him by 10 am on this day. It is possible that Manning and the Colts could agree to extend this date, but I doubt that will happen. Manning has no incentive to do so.
March 5: Deadline to apply franchise tag
Match 5th is the day that most of the franchise tags will be applied to players who get them. If Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks don’t have a deal by this point, expect Lynch to be given the franchise tag. Players with the franchise tag are automatically given a 1-year contract that worth the average salary of top 5 players at their position. In Lynch’s case, that will be just under $8 million.
Players do not have to sign the 1-year offer right away. They are free to negotiate long term deals with other teams if they choose, but the team that signs them must then give up 2 first round draft picks to the player’s former team. It is possible for franchise-tagged players to be traded, but the player must be willing to sign the 1 year offer for that to happen. This happens only when a team is willing to take less than 1 first round picks in order to let a player go. For instance, if a team offered a first and 3rd to Seattle for Lynch, they’d probably take that offer.
March 13: Free agency begins at 4 p.m.
The start of free agency is always exciting. Usually the biggest names get signed in within the first few days, and most of the players who will make any sort of impact on their new team will be signed before the draft in April. The most interesting names for the Seahawks fans to watch and see where they go are Matt Flynn and Mario Williams.
March 25-28: NFL owners’ meetings
The owners meeting in Florida aren’t like the baseball owners meetings where big player moves take place. Instead, I bet that they just sit around drinking fine scotch discussing how rich they are. They will also vote on any rules changes that the competition committee has suggested, like perhaps moving where kickoffs are taken back to the 30 yard line again.
Mid-April: Teams begin offseason programs
Each team can, and will have 10 organized team activities (OTA) over the course of the offseason. These used to be called mini-camps. Most teams usually have 2-3 before the draft and save the rest until after the draft so the rookies can participate.
April 26-28: The NFL Draft begins in NYC
The NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday night, April 26th with the first round of the draft. Rounds 2 and 3 will be Friday the 27th, and round 4-7 take place on Saturday the 28th.
12thMR will be covering the draft live this year. Stay tuned.
Late July: Training camps begin
Very little happens after the draft until the very end of July. I suggest you spend a lot of time with your family, fix anything that needs fixing around the house, and read a few books. This is a tough time for NFL fans as there’s really nothing going on except for a few OTAs.
Early August: Preseason begins
The pre-season doesn’t matter, unless you’re an NFL player. Players are trying to make teams, or trying to get ready for when the games start counting. While no one really cares what the scores are in these games, for the players they are serious business.
Sept. 6: Season opener
The actual schedule isn’t available yet, but we do know that the Giants will host the season opener in New Jersey.