As New York Giants players hit social media with their laments about the way the 2013 season transpired, management and head coach Tom Coughlin approach this playoffs time with an aggressive game plan.
Player personnel and scouting staff are already gearing up for the January 25th Senior Bowl. Since no Giants are Pro Bowl-bound, the January 26 game isn’t “important,” just as the February 2nd game slated to play on their home turf isn't either.
Technically, the important dates don’t start for another month when that almighty franchise tag may be slapped on a player. That date, folks, is February 17th — the first day for organizations to designate franchise (or transition) players.
Next, if it has become your thing, is the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. For a week (February 19-25) each position can be “evaluated” along with the experts live from Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts.
The month of March is when things really begin to heat up again and the incessant checking of football information sites begins. Free agency enters its official opening on March 11th at 4 PM EST, but from March 8-11, franchises are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with certified agents of players who are set to become Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) upon the expiration of their 2013 player contracts (at 4 PM EST on March 11).
Note: contracts cannot be negotiated with a new team until after free agency officially opens — you guessed it: 4 PM EST on March 11. This date is also when the 2014 league year begins.
Realize that on this date, too, is when the New York Giants (before 4 PM EST) must exercise options for 2014 on all players who have option clauses in their 2013 contracts — like with tight end Brandon Meyers (or not) and cornerback Corey Webster, and must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) with expiring contracts — like: running back Da'Rel Scott, offensive lineman Jim Cordle, linebackers Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich, fullback Henry Hynoski and Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA) offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds.
Last, and perhaps most important item on the agenda for this particular day in March, all organizations have until that 4 PM EST to be under the 2014 salary cap. Fun stuff if you pay attention to those capologist-like figures. An elaboration piece on this may come in the future.
Later on in March, as free agency slows down a pinch, team owners have their annual meeting in Orlando, the 23rd-26th.
April kicks off the 2014 off-season workout programs (depending if there was a head coaching change, that sets the start date): April 7th for teams that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2013 regular season, April 21 for teams with returning head coaches.
You may have noticed that the 2014 NFL Draft wasn’t mentioned yet. It has been pushed back to the second week in May. May 2nd is the deadline for RFAs to sign their offer sheets; May 7th is the deadline for teams to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.
Thursday evening, May 8th through May 10th, is the NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It is currently three and a half months away. Get your draft boards and your mock drafts ready. Before ya' know it, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and Mini-Camps will be here before 90-man Training Camps…along with some wishful thinking.
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