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Mile High Morning: Important 2022 NFL offseason dates to know


The Lead

With the our first NFL-less weekend behind us following the Super Bowl, the offseason is about to get into full swing.

But it's not all doldrums. Over the months to come, you'll want to be keenly aware of these key offseason dates:


March 1-7: 2022 NFL Scouting Combine

The Combine returns for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, as invited prospects look to display their athletic skills through myriad events, including the 40-yard dash. Teams will also be able to meet with prospects for in-person interviews.

March 8 at 2 p.m. MT: Deadline for teams to place the Franchise or Transition Tag on a player

These tags are designations teams can choose to apply to players scheduled to enter unrestricted free agency. The tag, which sets a one-year tender offer at a pre-determined salary based on an average of others at the same position, allows teams and players to continue to negotiate for several more months before a deadline to either agree to a new contract or to play under the one-year tender.

March 14-16: The two-day "legal tampering period"

Ahead of the start of the new league year on March 16, teams may contact and enter contract negotiations with agents representing players who will become unrestricted free agents — or, if the player chooses not to have representation, with the free agent themselves. During this time, which is commonly referred to as the "legal tampering period," clubs may not execute a contract with a player. This period begins at 10 a.m. MT and lasts until the 2021 league year expires at 1:59:59 p.m. MT.

March 16: The 2022 League Year, free agency and the 2022 trading period begin

At 2 p.m. MT, teams may execute contracts with free agents and conduct trades with other clubs

March 27-30: 2022 Annual League Meeting

In Palm Beach, Florida, both NFL and club executives will meet to discuss potential changes to the game and other topics.


April 4: Teams with new head coaches may begin offseason workout programs

The Broncos and other NFL teams with new head coaches are permitted to start their offseason workout programs two weeks before the April 18 start date for those with returning head coaches.

April 20: Deadline for teams to bring draft prospects to club facilities for physical evaluations

Over the course of the draft process, NFL clubs may conduct physical examinations of draft prospects at team facilities.

April 22: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets from other teams

April 27: Deadline for teams to exercise the right of first refusal for restricted free agents

Restricted free agents that receive qualifying offers from their original team have about five weeks to entertain offers from other clubs. Depending on the tenders that original team places on the restricted free agent, that team may retain the right of first refusal to match another team's offer and may receive a draft pick as compensation if it declines to match.

April 27: Deadline for teams to time, test and interview draft prospects

April 28-30: 2022 NFL Draft

Over the annual three-day draft, the Broncos and other teams will add draft-eligible players to their rosters. The Broncos' current draft capital includes the ninth-overall pick and five total picks in the first three rounds.

Below the Fold

Which Broncos player would you say was its most improved in 2021? According to Pro Football Focus, that would be center Lloyd Cushenberry III, who settled in after starting all 16 games as a rookie in 2020. From that season to the last, Cushenberry improved in PFF's overall grade from 40.5 to 64.2.

"[H]e took a necessary step forward in his sophomore campaign," Anthony Treash wrote. "He still has plenty of room to grow, but ranking 22nd of 40 qualifying centers in PFF grade is a lot better than dead last."

The Unclassifieds

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