It has been just over two weeks since the New England Patriots pulled off greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. After watching history be made from the couch, the Detroit Lions offseason planning began with the hope of returning to the 2017 playoffs. Here are the key dates in the NFL offseason calendar and the impact they will have.
NFL Scouting Combine
- When: February 28th through March 6th
- Where: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Coverage: Wall to Wall coverage on the NFL Network
Impact: Bob Quinn has vowed to upgrade the running game either by adding another running back or bolstering the offensive line. Performances at the combine will help teams define their player rankings prior to the draft. That should capture the interest of the running backs Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington who could have some rookie competition come training camp. Free agent to be Riley Reiff might also take note of players that could make him expendable.
Franchise Tag Deadline
- When: March 1st 4pm
Impact: Riley Reiff and Larry Warford are Franchise tag candidates if the Lions feel they could lose one or both to Free Agency. Reiff had some adjustments in 2016 moving from the left to right side of the line but finished strong. Warford rebounded nicely from an injury filled 2015 season. Both players are vital to the offensive line and although the Lions could replace one of them, they would have trouble replacing both. It is more likely that the Lions will negotiate long-term deals for Reiff and Warford around but if a deals aren’t in hand by the deadline, look for the Lions to protect their interests up front.
Begin Negotiating with Free Agents
- When: March 7th
Impact: Inevitably there is a media story that will leak about Jim Caldwell standing on a players porch at 12:01 trying to coax them into coming to Detroit. The Detroit Lions have not been linked to any of the top free agents this offseason. Most of their efforts will focused on retaining some of the key free agents in danger of leaving the Honolulu Blue.
- When: March 9th
Impact: This is the first day in which teams can actually sign free agents. It is also the day in which teams have to announce whether they intend to exercise 2017 contract options. This is a key day for Eric Ebron with whom the club has a 2017 option.
Annual League Meeting
- When: March 26th through 29th
- Where: Phoenix, Arizona
Impact: No big rule changes are on the agenda for this meeting but the future of the Raiders and their pending move to Las Vegas will be.
- When: Sometime in April
Impact: The NFL hasn’t given a specific date for this, they like to drop the schedule out of the blue when they have it completed. That said, when it does drop the SideLionReport will be all over it.
Begin Offseason Workouts
- When: April 3rd and 17th
Impact: Teams with new coaches get a jump start on offseason workouts and can begin on the 3rd. Teams will returning coaches have to wait until the 17th. This will be a key day for Ameer Abdullah who has been showing good progress in his rehab. It will be interesting to see if he can meet his goal of being full strength when the players hit the weight room at Allen Park.
Restricted Free Agent Deadline
- When: April 21st
Impact: The Lions only have a couple of Restricted Free Agents. Cornelius Lucas and Khyri Thornton don’t have enough impact on the roster to warrant a qualifying offer.
The NFL Draft
- When: April 27th-29th
- Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Coverage: ESPN, NFL Network
Impact: Also known at the Detroit Lions Super Bowl, the NFL Draft will “kick-off” the first round in prime-time on April 27th. The second and third rounds will take place on the 28th with the wrap-up on April 29th. The SideLionReport will be all over the draft with player profiles and analysis.
- When: May 5-8 and 12-15
- Where: Allen Park
Impact: This is when Lions fans get to unwrap the shiny new rookies they got during the draft. Mini camps will give us a glimpse into where some of the competition for roster spots will be during training camp.
Organized Team Activities and Mandatory Mini-Camps (OTAs)
- When: May and June (Date TBD)
- Where: Allen Park
Impact: Who is holding out or over-weight? Which players have high expectations and which ones may surprise? During OTAs we will start to see the 2017 Lions take shape. We will also see if players recovering from injury will be ready to go on Week 1 of the regular season.
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