With the New England Patriots crowned Super Bowl champions, the 2018 season is officially over and the offseason has begun. Here are a few key dates.
With the Super Bowl over, conversations have shifted to focus on the best players available ahead of the 2019 season. But when does NFL free agency technically begin?
March 5 is the deadline for teams to designate players as franchise or transition players. 2018 contracts expire at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 13, which is technically when free agency begins, but teams can begin to contact players and enter into negotiations with players on March 11 at noon ET.
Before that deadline on March 13, teams must submit clubs must submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents with expiring contracts if they want to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation. After the deadline, the 2019 league year officially begins, and free agency begins.
So, while people will begin to talk about the top free agents now, a lot can happen in the next month. Players can receive the franchise tag or negotiate long-term contracts. They also might be released from existing contracts.
Jadeveon Clowney is an example of a player that many expect to receive the franchise tag from the Houston Texans before he hits the open market. Nick Foles is an example of a player who is expected to become a free agent, even though the Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly thinking about a trade. Philadelphia has already announced that it plans to start Carson Wentz in 2019.
A lot can happen between now and March 13. Many of the best players may be off the market by the time free agency starts. For now, we’ll keep our eyes on negotiations and patiently wait for the magic to start when players hit the open market.