There is no longer a lull on the NFL calendar. Though the league plays a full slate of games for just four months per year, which is easily the shortest time period for a regular season amongst major pro sports in North America, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has carefully constructed the league’s calendar to have few days in which there is zero football “buzz.”
The NFL Combine wrapped up this past Tuesday with the attention now shifting to free agency, which begins March 8 with a “pre-signing period.” Teams are allowed to talk to players during that time but not make deals. The new way of doing things led to some frustration last year.
“It’s like speed dating,” an NFC personnel director told NFL.com in 2013. “You are allowed to talk to each other for five minutes but have to wait until the end of the evening to ask for a date.”
Teams were instructed to keep the public chatter to a minimum during this time. For all intents and purposes, the true free agent frenzy will begin on Tuesday, March 11 this year.
The NFL Draft used to take place in April but will take place in early May this year – May 8-10 to be exact. The obvious reason to do this is to prolong the “anticipation period” leading up to the draft. This means several more weeks of draft talk and, in turn, more money for the league.
Goodell has also hinted in the past that he wants to move the draft out of New York City (it will take place at Radio City Music Hall in 2014) and bring the event to different NFL cities each year.
Rookie mini-camps took place in early May last season and OTAs took place in late May. The official 2014 NFL season calendar has not yet been released, though we know training camp for rookies will begin in mid-July. The 2014 NFL schedule, with dates and times of all games, is set to be released in April.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS