Cleveland Browns: Key dates to know during the offseason
The Cleveland Browns are going to be extremely busy in the coming months with free agents and the draft. Here are some important dates to remember.
The offseason is in full swing for the Cleveland Browns as they continue to put the 2016 season – and its 1-15 record – in the rearview mirror.
The Browns have already worked out a contract extension with linebacker Jamie Collins, but are still working on a new deal with wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. They also have to decide what to do with unrestricted free agents Stephen Paea, Britton Colquitt, Austin Pasztor and Jordan Poyer, along with restricted free agents Marcus Burley, Isaiah Crowell, Glenn Winston and Charley Hughlett.
Cleveland got a jump on the annual veteran roster purge this week by releasing quarterback Josh McCown and cornerback Tramon Williams. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if quarterback Robert Griffin III and defensive end Desmond Bryant follow in the coming weeks.
The Browns currently hold eight selections in the 2017 NFL Draft, including two first-round picks, a pair of second-round picks and five total picks in the first 65 selections. They also have somewhere north of an estimated $105 million in available cap space.
Those are a lot of assets to help get the latest and greatest rebuilding efforts on the fast track
To help keep track of when the Browns and the rest of the league can make moves in the coming months, here are some key dates to keep handy.
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Feb. 15: This is the first day that teams may designate Franchise or Transition players. For the Browns, the only player that they would be considering using a franchise or transition tag on is Pryor. While we won’t know what that number is until the new salary cap comes out, in 2016 the franchise tag for a wide receiver was $14.6 million, while the transition tag was $12.3 million.
Feb. 28-March 6: If the NFL Draft is the Super Bowl for Browns fans, then the annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is the Pro Bowl – everyone watches it although they don’t really know why. With the Browns holding the No. 1 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft – and selecting five times among the first 65 picks – expect ratings to be high in Northeast Ohio.
March 1: Deadline for teams to designate Franchise or Transition players
Related: Browns 3-round mock draft
March 7-9: Things start to get real in free agency as teams are allowed to get in contact with agents of players who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. Those talks can include contract negotiations, although the actual deal can’t be finalized until the start of the league year. Depending on what happens in the next few weeks, the Browns will enter free agency with more than $100 million in cap space.
March 9: The 2017 league year, along with free agency, kicks off at 4 p.m. EST. The first of the big-name free agent signings generally come around 4:01 p.m.
March 26-29: The annual league meeting will be held in Phoenix.
April 3: Teams that hired a head coach are permitted to begin their offseason workouts.
April 17: Head coach Hue Jackson and his rebuilt coaching staff are permitted to start offseason workouts.
April 27-29: The Cleveland Browns will open the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia as they have the No. 1 overall selection for the first time since 2000. That is unless they trade it.
May 5-8 or May 12-15: The Browns will get their first look at their rookie class as teams are permitted to hold one, three-day minicamp with their rookies.
May 9: The deadline for teams to tender their remaining unrestricted free agents.
July 15: Decision day as players who were tagged as franchise players must decide if they want to sign a multi-year contract or an extension.