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NFL calendar 2018: Combine, free agency, draft, training camp, and other important dates

Keeping you up-to-date on the NFL calendar for 2018.

NFL: FEB 03 Super Bowl LII - NFL Honors Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A little over a month ago, OCC posted the important dates on the NFL calendar for 2018. Now that we’re done playing football and we’re moving into the meat of the offseason, it’s probably a good time to re-visit these dates. Want to know when free agency starts? Check below. Wondering about franchise tags (DeMarcus Lawrence probably is, or at least his agent is), that date is below.

This is a handy guide to keep bookmarked so you can quickly find information as we move forward through the 2018 offseason.


February 20: First day for clubs to designate franchise or transition players.

February 27-March 5: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.


March 6: Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to designate franchise or transition players.

March 12-14: Two-day legal tampering period. Teams may enter into contract negotiations with agents representing the players who will become free agents at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 14.

March 14: The deadline for all teams to exercise option clauses and submit offers & tenders to their 2017 RFAs & ERFAs occurs at 4 p.m. EST. All teams must be under the salary cap with their top 51 players.

March 14: The 2018 league year, free agency period, and trading period begins at 4:00 p.m., New York time.

March 25-28: Annual League Meeting, Orlando, Florida.


April 16: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.

April 20: Start of NFL's annual substance-abuse testing program. All players under contract with an NFL club will be tested once during the period beginning April 20 and continuing through August 9.

April 20: The deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.

April 26-28: 2018 NFL Draft, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX. The Cowboys currently hold the 19th overall pick. In addition to their regular draft picks, the Cowboys should have an extra four compensatory draft picks in the 2018 draft.


May 9: From this day forward, free agent signings do not count against the compensatory pick formula.

May 11-13: Cowboys hold their three-day post-draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday.

May 21-23: Spring League Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia.

End May - early June: Voluntary OTAs begin (veterans and rookies). Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed. The Cowboys OTA dates are May 23-25, May 30-31, June 1 and June 5-7.


Mandatory minicamp: June 13-15.

Late-June: Rookie Transition Program to be held at individual clubs. Attendance is mandatory for all rookies.


Mid-July: Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players.

End-July: First possible practice of training camp is 14 days prior to each team's first preseason game. The Cowboys will arrive in Oxnard, Calif., on July 24. Opening press conference July 25. First practice July 26. First padded practice July 28. The Cowboys will return home Aug. 17 and have open practices at The Star in Frisco, Texas.


August 2: Hall of Fame Game, Canton, Ohio.

August 2-5: Hall of Fame Weekend, Canton, Ohio. Terrell Owens will be honored in the Class of 2018.

August 9, 10:00 pm ET: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers

August 18, 7:00 pm ET: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys

August 26, 8:00 pm ET: Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys (NBC)

August 30, 8:00 pm ET: Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans


September 1: Clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players by 4:00 p.m., New York time.

September 2: Clubs may establish a practice squad of 10 players.

September 6, 9-10: Regular season opens. The exact dates and times for each game can be found here.

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