With Super Bowl XLVI in the books, the 2011 NFL season has come to a close. Although the next regular-season game wont be until September, there is still plenty to look forward to for Jets fans this offseason. The Jets have yet to release dates on their own calendar and we’ll get them to you as soon as we have them. Following are dates and events along the league’s timeline in the coming months.
Feb. 22-28 — NFL Scouting Combine
Over 300 prospects for the 2012 draft have been invited to and will participate in the combine workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The combine is a proving ground for NFL hopefuls as their on- and off-the-field skills are evaluated.
March 5 — Deadline to Apply Franchise Tag
Each team can apply a franchise tag to any one player who would otherwise become an unrestricted free agent on March 13. This player is then tendered a one-year contract with his current team worth the cap percent average for players at his position. The Jets most recently franchised LB David Harris prior to the 2011 season before the sides negotiated a four-year extension in August.
March 13, 4 p.m. — Free Agency Begins
This is the earliest date that teams can sign free agents. There are two types of free agents: unrestricted and restricted. Unrestricted free agents have accrued four or more seasons in the NFL and are free to negotiate with any of the league’s 32 clubs. Restricted free agents have accrued three seasons in the league and are still subject to right-of-first-refusal or draft choice compensation in favor of their former teams. The right of first refusal gives a team the ability to match an offer made to a player by another franchises.
Here are the potential free agents who played for the Jets this past season:
QB Mark Brunell
WR Plaxico Burress
K Nick Folk
S Jim Leonhard
QB Kevin O’Connell
S Brodney Pool
DT Sione Pouha
DB Donald Strickland
LB Bryan Thomas
RB LaDainian Tomlinson
OL Rob Turner
DB Marquice Cole
LB Aaron Maybin
TE Matthew Mulligan
LB Jamaal Westerman
(WR Patrick Turner was eligible to become a RFA but recently signed a contract extension and will return to the Jets for the 2012 season.)
April 16 — Earliest Start for Offseason Conditioning, Phase I
All teams’ nine-week programs will be split into three phases. The Jets’ program will be held at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Phase I will span the first two weeks and is strictly intended for strength, conditioning and rehabilitation. During this time players are not permitted to be on the field with football staff with the exception of strength and conditioning coaches.
April 26-28 — NFL Draft
The first round will once again be a Thursday night primetime affair on April 26. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday and Rounds 4-7 on Saturday. As always, the draft will take place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Keep an eye out for an official Jets Draft Party near you as the dates approach.
April 30 — Earliest Start for Offseason Conditioning, Phase II
Phase II, lasting three weeks, allows players and coaches to work on the field together. During this time, on-field drills are permitted but contact, helmets and offense vs. defense drills are not.
May 4 — Earliest Start for Rookie Minicamps
The Jets, who have not announced their schedule yet for this year’s rookie minicamp, traditionally have brought their draft choices and undrafted free agents in for the weekend after the draft. All teams can choose this weekend or May 11-13 for their rookie minicamps.
May 21 — Earliest Start for Offseason Conditioning, Phase III
The number of Organized Team Activity periods (OTAs) have been reduced from 14 to 10 in accordance with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. This will mark the first time that offensive and defensive players can take the field at the same time under guidance of the coaching staff. Players can wear helmets but not pads or shells. Contact is not permitted.
June 4 — Earliest Start for Mandatory Veteran Minicamps
The only week of the offseason that players are required to be present at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Similar to OTAs, players can take the field for drills with teammates and coaches, provided there is no contact.
Late July — Training Camps Begin
The Jets will return to SUNY Cortland for their 2012 training camp after spending August 2011 at their training center in Florham Park, N.J. Training camps for all teams no more than 15 days prior to their first scheduled preseason games.
Tags: NFL, NFLPA, offseason schedule, Patrick Turner, rookie minicamps, veteran minicamps
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