Sep 13, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; NFL Back to Football logo on the field prior to the game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Bears 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Free Agency Schedule: Happy New Year!

Happy new year, Detroit Lions fans! The NFL’s new league year begins today and 4 p.m. and while it won’t be marked by the dropping of a large crystal ball in Times Square, it will signal the official start of the free agency period. Yes, it’s OK, go ahead and give your significant other a firm smooch!

Once 4 p.m. ET gets here, the Lions (and the NFL’s 31 other clubs) can get in touch with players instead of just agents and can officially submit and agree to deals with free agents from other teams.

Today figures to be a busy day for Martin Mayhew and the rest of the Lions front office. They have been heavily mentioned as a suitor for Reggie Bush and word broke last night they may be a favorite to land safety Dashon Goldson and also showing interest in safety Glover Quin. It’s likely we will hear more rumors about their involvement in the cornerback market.

NFL Communications gives a breakdown of the key dates during the offseason:

For Restricted Free Agents, from March 12 to April 19. For Unrestricted Free Agents who have received the June 1 tender from their prior club, from March 12 to July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later). For Franchise Players, from March 12 until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the regular season, November 12. If a Franchise Player does not sign by November 12, he must sit out the season. There are no Transition Player designations this year.

To put it in bullet form:

  • March 12, 4:00 p.m. ET: New league year begins, free agency opens
  • April 19: Restricted free agents signing period ends
  • March 12 through June 1 [prior club tender], July 22: First training camp to sign UFAs
  • March 12 through November 12: Window to sign franchise players

Stay up to date with FanSided’s free agency tracker.

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Tags: Detroit Lions Free Agency

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