With the Miami Dolphins missing the playoffs for the fifth straight season, this figures to be a long offseason for the organization and their fans. Here are some key dates to remember as the offseason unfolds:
Feb. 17 to March 3: Teams can designate franchise players: Teams have a two-week window to decide whether to use the franchise tag. Brent Grimes is the leading candidate for the franchise tag, which would account for $11 million in cap space.
March 8: First day teams can negotiate with agents for prospective free agents: With free agency looming, 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 Dolphins have no restricted free agents and two exclusive rights free agents (Offensive tackle Will Yeatman and wide receiver Armon Binns).
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 Dolphins also will learn how many compensatory picks they’ll have in the draft. This also is when Dolphins owner Steve Ross usually gives his state of the franchise address.
April 21: First day Dolphins can begin offseason-workout program: After missing out on the playoffs, Dolphins 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 Dolphins will be picking 19th in the first round.
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: The Dolphins' home schedule includes games against the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens. They will play the Patriots, Jets, Bills, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars on the road. The Dolphins will face the Oakland Raiders in London on Sept. 28.