The NFL Offseason Begins in Earnest - A Timeline to More Football

With the Super Bowl now in the books, with all of us facing the specter of no real NFL football to be played for MONTHS!!, I turn to the calendar to remind me just how quickly this offseason will really go. Luckily for everyone, the NFL offseason schedule is pretty packed with interesting events, from free agency, the Combine, the Draft, OTAs, Training Camp, and finally the preseason.

Because it's a Monday and because you may be depressed to learn that there will be no NFL football games next weekend, I thought I'd run down some of the upcoming events so we can anticipate them with childlike joy.

February 20th, 2012 - Franchise Tag/Transition Tags can be applied to players.

This is the day that teams can begin applying the franchise tag to players they simply must not part with. Naturally, teams will attempt to negotiate with players they want around longer on longer term contracts, but I imagine some teams will use the tag to hold on to an aging, effective player for one more year or for guys that don't want to stick around.

Regardless, in the Seahawks' case, Marshawn Lynch and Red Bryant are the two more likely candidates, though I doubt that Bryant will considered all that heavily with the amount of cheddar those defensive ends make with the franchise tag ($10- $11 milly for one year, per Brian McIntyre). If the Hawks decide to franchise Marshawn Lynch, which seems to be a distinct possibility considering his importance to this offense, he'd cost somewhere in the $7 - $8 million range (again, per Mac's Football Blog).

This is simply the first day that these tags can be applied, and it's likely that most teams will continue to negotiate with their players until the deadline. Which I'll tell you about later in this story so keep reading.

February 22nd - 28th, 2012 - The NFL Combine.

Underwear football! This is where we'll all obsess over measurables and 40 times and eagerly await scouting reports on how cut all these former college players are with no shirt on. In all honesty though, I'm really looking forward to the Combine and it's only a few short weeks away. Nice.

March 5th, 2012 - Deadline for Franchise Tags/Transition Tags.

This is the last day that teams can slap the Franchise Tag/Transition Tag on a player before they hit the open market as an official unrestricted free agent. If the Hawks are unable to reach agreements with their major free agents by March 5th, again - Marshawn Lynch, Red Bryant, Michael Robinson, David Hawthorne, to name a few - the franchise or transition tags may be used.

If the team doesn't wish to use the Franchise Tag on a player, they don't have to. If they want right of first refusal (matching ability) on a player, they may use the Transition Tag. In effect, this makes the player a restricted free agent, I believe.

March 8th, 2012 - Peyton Manning Roster Bonus Due (allegedly, though rumor has it this date can be moved by parties involved).

Because I know some of us are keeping the dream alive of Manning in a Seahawks uniform, this is, as of right now, the date in which the Colts must pay Manning or release/trade him.

March 13th, 2012, 1:00 PM PST - Free Agency starts.


March 25th - 28th, 2012 - NFL Owners meetings in Palm Beach, FL.

I'm not too sure what will be going on in these meetings but the movie Very Bad Things comes to mind.

Mid-April, 2012 - Team OTAs may commence.

Woooo! Offseason Team Activities (?) start! This is, I guess, a good way to see what kind of shape players are in, see how their injuries are healing, and to interview a lot of players on how their offseasons are going. Hopefully a lot of players will be around in Seattle and it will be interesting to see which players are the leaders at these things. Obviously, unlike last year, the coaching staff can be present, but it will be fun to keep an eye on which players emerge as leaders. It's all we got during the offseason, I'm sorry.

April 26th - 28th - The NFL Draft.

April 26 - First round of 2012 NFL Draft
April 27 - Second and third rounds of 2012 NFL Draft
April 28 - Rounds 4-7 of 2012 NFL Draft

The main event. What we've all been waiting for! This is a big year in the Draft for Seattle. The team looks poised to make some noise in 2012 and adding a few key contributors here would be huge. Obviously, the QB question might start to get answered in these three days, as will a few key positions like defensive end, linebacker, and possibly running back or wide receiver. Will be fun.

Late July, 2012 - Training Camp yo!

Training camp gives us a great opportunity to observe and analyze which younger players and draft picks may impress in the coming season. I know that Doug Baldwin was extremely impressive in training camp this year as an undrafted free agent and that won him a roster spot, then translated nicely to the regular season. With the emphasis that John Schneider puts on these undrafted free agent players and the frequency of which they stick with the team, I'm eagerly awaiting this time of year. Plus, training camp at the VMAC with Pete Carroll running your team, is a blast.

Late August, 2012 - It's preseason already!!

Really ugly football commence! See? It's a pretty short offseason guys. Teams will whittle their rosters down to 53. A very interesting time of year. It might start getting sunny in Seattle at about this time.

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