With the Ravens missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007, this figures to be a long offseason for the organization and its fans. Here are some key dates to remember as the offseason unfolds:
Jan. 26: Pro Bowl, Honolulu: The Pro Bowl was even more of an afterthought last year to the Ravens, who were busy preparing for Super Bowl XLVII. This year, right guard Marshal Yanda, rush linebacker Terrell Suggs, nose tackle Haloti Ngata and kicker Justin Tucker have been selected to play in the game.
Feb. 2: Super Bowl XLVIII, East Rutherford, N.J.: The Ravens’ one-year reign atop the NFL officially ends as a new champion is crowned.
Feb. 17 to March 3: Teams can designate franchise players: Teams have a two-week window to decide whether to use the franchise tag. The Ravens have used it in the past on running back Ray Rice and Ngata, among others, but it would be surprising if they used it this year on any of their free agents.
Feb. 19 to 25: NFL scouting combine, Indianapolis: Some of the team’s top decision makers will be at Lukas Oil Stadium to evaluate and interview the top prospects of the 2014 draft class. The Ravens figure to be paying close attention to the wide receiver, offensive line and safety classes.
March 8: First day teams can negotiate with agents for prospective free agents: With free agency looming, Ozzie Newsome and other NFL general managers will be allowed to start calling representatives of free agents and begin contract negotiations. However, contracts aren’t allowed to be finalized until free agency officially begins a couple of days later.
March 11: New NFL year begins at 4 p.m.: The beginning of the NFL year marks the start of the annual offseason free-agent frenzy. Not only are free agents allowed to sign with teams, but the trading period also begins and teams must submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents and salary tenders to exclusive-rights free agents. The Ravens have two restricted free agents (wide receiver Tandon Doss and middle linebacker Albert McClellan) and six exclusive-rights free agents (linebackers D.J. Bryant, Josh Bynes and Adrian Hamilton and safeties Omar Brown, Anthony Levine and Brynden Trawick).
March 23 to 26: Owners meetings, Orlando, Fla.: The meetings gives teams an opportunity to vote on proposed rule changes and other league matters, and agents the chance to meet in person with team executives. The Ravens also will learn how many compensatory picks they’ll have in the draft.
April 21: First day Ravens can begin offseason-workout program: After missing out on the playoffs, Ravens players have vowed to come back especially motivated. The start of offseason workouts will give them a good opportunity to show it.
May 8 to 10: NFL draft, New York: The Ravens will be picking either 16th or 17th in the first round, depending on the result of a coin flip with the Dallas Cowboys to take place at the NFL scouting combine in February. The Ravens traded three total picks this year to acquire offensive linemen Eugene Monroe and A.Q. Shipley. However, they should get those picks back in the form of compensatory selections.
Mid-July: Training camp: Exact dates will be determined later this offseason, but teams are permitted to open training camp for rookies and first-year players seven days before the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veterans. Veterans may report no earlier than either 15 days before the first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever comes later.
Sept. 4, 7, 8: NFL Kickoff weekend: There will be no scheduling conflict with the Orioles on a season-opening Thursday night game this year. The Ravens’ out-of-conference schedule includes home games against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers and Carolina Panthers. They’ll play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts on the road.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun