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Key 2024 NFL Offseason Dates

Important dates for free agency, the draft and other events

GM Monti Ossenfort during the 2023 draft.
GM Monti Ossenfort during the 2023 draft.

Now that the Scouting combine is over, the NFL is speeding toward the key parts of the offseason (didn't the Super Bowl just happen?) Free agency comes and then the draft, and before you know it Kyler Murray will be getting his first OTA work with Jonathan Gannon, since Murray's knee prevented such collaboration last season. 

(The Cardinals' specific offseason schedule has not yet been set.)

By next week, free agency will be underway. Pro Days for schools are also ongoing, as the teams get further looks at potential draftees. The NFL -- save for about a month from mid-June to mid-July -- never really takes a break.

March 5 - Franchise tag deadline

The Cardinals don't have any players that were ever going to be tagged. But who and who isn't tagged could still impact a player or two with whom they might have free-agent interest.

March 11, 9 a.m. Arizona time - Teams can speak to players from other teams about free agency ("legal tampering")

On Monday, teams can begin speaking with the agents of players scheduled to become free agents on Wednesday. It's no longer tampering, as it once officially was. A handful of players will be reported to headed to their new teams in this two-day window, even though they can't officially sign anywhere until Wednesday.

March 13, 1 p.m. Arizona time - Free agency begins

This is when players can officially begin signing with other teams, although, as we have noted, some of the signings are old news by now.

April 15 - Offseason program can begin

For teams with a returning coach -- like the Cardinals -- this is the first day the offseason program can begin, with the Phase One strength and conditioning. This is a Monday; the Cardinals waited until a Tuesday to start last season. Eventually there will be Phase Two (no helmets, on field, offense and defense is separate), and then Phase Three (OTAs, when helmets are worn and offense and defense can go against each other on a limited basis.)

April 17 - Last day to bring in player for draft visit at team facility

Each team gets "top 30" visits, which just means they can bring into the team facility up to 30 draft eligible players for interviews and medical checks. (No workouts). It doesn't necessarily mean the top 30 prospects -- usually, teams have a handful of players in who they might want to target later in the draft and even a potential undrafted rookie or two. The high end guys they usually see on Pro Days as well as the Combine.

April 19 - Restricted free agent offer sheet deadline

This used to be a much more important date, but anymore nobody really allows key players to become RFAs (a player with three years in the league and rookies all sign four-year deals now) and certainly none are signed to offer sheets, which teams can match if they want.

April 24 - Deadline to meet with a draft-eligible anywhere but team facility

Teams can still be meeting with potential draftees all the way until Draft Eve. I suppose it isn't out of the question, but you'd figure the hay would be in the barn by now.

April 25-27 - NFL Draft

It's Christmas for those fans starving for the NFL. The Cardinals hold the No. 4 and No. 27 pick in the first round and 11 picks overall.

May 2 - Fifth-year option deadline for 2021 first-round picks

This is the last day a team can pick up the fifth-year option for a 2021 first-round choice. In the Cardinals' case, that's linebacker Zaven Collins. GM Monti Ossenfort said that decision is still being discussed. If Collins gets his option, it would be about $13.5 million guaranteed for 2025. If the Cardinals don't pick it up, Collins would be scheduled to be a free agent after the 2024 season.

May 3 or May 10 - Teams have their rookie minicamp on one of these two weekends. The Cardinals usually hold theirs two weeks after the draft, which this year would be May 10-12.