The NFL season is over and now you can focus on whatever other sport you love. Hell, you might even actually spend some time with your family. Or so you thought…
Over the past 5 or 6 years the concept of an NFL off season has largely become a myth. Yes there is a part of the year where there are no meaning NFL games but that doesn’t mean that the NFL has lost our complete interest. In fact, they’ve structured the “off season” so that you never really can forget about the grandest game in the land.
Right after Super Bowl, which this year was Feb 5th, we have about two weeks of de-briefing. Guys who recently became stars (see: Giants Victor Cruz) are still in the news. In Cruz’s case, he was invited to present at the Grammys and even signed a book deal. Those like Tom Brady remain in the national consciousness as we wonder if they absorb their losses by dancing Rob Gronkowski style into the night or if they sit in their house much like Lee Evans sat on a bench staring into space after Sterling Moore swiped the ball out of his hand sending Baltimore back to Baltimore.
Around that same time there are lots of hirings as coaching changes made around Black Monday (after the last regular season game) start to take shape. Soon Franchise Tags can be used. This year that began Feb 20th. And even though we know teams won’t even bother with them until the deadline (this year it’s March 5th) that won’t stop Eagles fans from worrying about Desean Jackson’s fate or Houston fans from wondering if Mario Williams will be unaffordable.
Before the franchise tag deadline comes we get combine–which started Feb 22nd and is still going on until tomorrow. With combine you get live coverage of some of the best athletes in the world and more updates than you would ever need via NFL.com and NFL Network. Thus begins the speculation of whether combine speed and performance in drills will change the expected draft order. This ramps up speculation for both the free agency period and the draft.
This is also the time where fans get so draft-obsessed they forget that some needs on some teams are better filled by veterans. And this is the type of conversation that will continue on until after draft is done and veterans and undrafted guys are still finding spots well into training camp.
This year free agency starts on March 13 and there should be a flurry of activity. It won’t match last year’s lockout frenzy but there lots of awesome free agents out there (especially at the Wide Receiver position) so there’s a chance we could see a lot of movement early.
After that from March 25-28 there will be NFL owners meetings. Owners meetings are important because each year owners get together and vote on rules and talk about the status of the NFL. With all of these high profile lawsuits going on, in particular one by Tony Dorsett and another filed by the Duerson family, the owners have lots to talk about. And we will some confirmation (and plenty of speculation) on what changes will made for the coming season –last year the doozy was probably movement of the kickoff line –which will give us fans lots to talk about as well.
Once April hits you might as well say the NFL is right back at it. Teams will start having organized team activities and other meetings. The draft starts on the 26th and runs through the 28th. So then you get coverage of who was drafted but also lots of stories on how the deals work out though less controversy this year now that we’re into the 2nd year of the glorious rookie wage scale.
The trick for fans will be getting through the last couple weeks of May…the most boring month of NFL “off season.” Then July and August will bring you tales from training camp. Next thing you know we will all be complaining about pre-season and ready for the September 6 season opener which will make the pain of offseason a mere memory once again.