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A complete guide to the 2018 NFL offseason and all the things you’re going to get worked up about for no reason

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We’ve got months until the 2018 season kicks off, but there’s plenty that will go down between now and then.

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl is over, but there’s still plenty of football, sort of, to talk about. The NFL offseason is here. There’s a lot of ground to cover between now and the start of training camps.

Here’s what you can expect over the next few months.


Endless gloating because the Patriots lost: Face it, everyone’s tired of the Patriots winning. Everyone outside of the greater Boston Metro area is going to continue to enjoy this.

Endless discussion of how and why the Patriots lost: Frankly, it’s still hard to believe.

Anonymous scout draft analysis: Get ready for three months of team sources unwilling to put their names on the record when they say incredibly dumb things to the press about college players they don’t know. Then the media repeats them, draft Twitter picks it up — how ‘bout the one with quarterback Lamar Jackson as a wide receiver? — and we’ve got the beginnings of unfair narratives that will define a player’s career before it’s even started.

Free agency speculation: Let’s talk about which star players will land with new teams this offseason, because what the hell else are we going to do?

Where does your team rank? Few things are as meaningless important and accurate as end-of-season power rankings. Last year, the Rams and Jaguars settled in near the bottom of the list, while the Cowboys, Packers, and Raiders were around the top.

Tag, you’re it: Is Washington illogical enough to tag Kirk Cousins yet again to try and trade him? We could find out on Feb. 20, which is the first day that teams are allowed to apply the franchise tag.

Underwear Olympics: Forget the Winter Olympics. It’s time to watch top draft prospects go through a bunch of drills wearing Lycra at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Tune in to see whose draft stock rises or plummets beginning Feb. 27.


Who got tagged? And how mad are they about it? We’ll know by March 5, the deadline for teams to apply the franchise tag to players whose contracts are expiring.

Let the (legal) tampering begin: Starting at 12 p.m. ET on March 12, teams can begin negotiating with players who are set to hit free agency. Players can’t officially sign with a new team until the 2018 league year begins on March 14. But LOL, come on, that’s just a formality.

Alex Smith officially traded to Washington: The Alex Smith trade is old news. But 4 p.m. ET on March 14 is the start of the new league year, so it will finally be official. Teams have to exercise options on existing contracts, submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents, and have their top 51 salaries under the 2018 salary cap by the time the new league year begins. It’s a busy day.

Free agent grades: Free agency also begins on March 14, which means we can instantly start grading teams’ acquisitions and telling you just how badly they overspent. As usual, these grades are 100 percent accurate and infallible, like last year when we gave the Eagles a “C” for signing Nick Foles.

The NFL will try to figure out what the hell a catch is! It’ll discuss the best way to clarify this rule during the annual league meetings in Orlando, beginning March 25 and wrapping up March 28. Also on the docket: a targeting rule similar to what the NCAA uses, a potential change to the national anthem policy, and probably more changes to the rules and bylaws that will have completely unanticipated effects.

We hope you love mock drafts. Buckle up for a billion mocks and endless draft analysis.

Pro days: Don’t worry if your favorite college player underwhelmed at the NFL Combine because he’s still got a pro day to redeem himself.


Where and when does your team play this year? The 2018 schedules will be officially released sometime in April during a prime-time televised special.

Finally, some football: The Bears, Cardinals, Colts, Giants, Lions, and Raiders can all start offseason workouts on April 2 because they have new head coaches. Every other team can fire these up on April 16.

Your team is definitely going to win the Super Bowl based on reports about offseason workouts, unless you’ve got a star player holding out. In that case, your season is effectively over.

The end of mock draft season: FINALLY. The NFL draft will be held April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.


How’d your team do in the draft? You’ll find out from all of the reports on how great or terribly your team’s rookies are performing in rookie minicamp. Those will be held either the weekend of May 4-7 or May 11-14.

Do we know what a catch is yet? If it wasn’t set in stone at the last round of league meetings in March, it’ll be revisited during the spring league meetings May 21-23 in Atlanta.


Teams reap the benefits of post-June 1 cuts: Half of the dead money from any designated post-June 1 cuts will be pushed to the 2019 salary cap on June 2.

There’s literally almost no NFL news: Unless someone gets arrested or something. This is the quietest part of the league year. Now we’ve probably jinxed it.


Get ready for your entire fan base to freak out every time a receiver drops a pass during an open practice when training camps kick off in mid-July. You should also prepare yourself for every single fan to become emotionally invested in some undrafted free agent with little to no chance of making the roster because he looks good running through drills in shorts and a helmet.

We’ll officially know who’s playing under the tag in 2018. The signing period for franchise and transition-tagged players ends on July 23.


FOOTBALL’S BACK: OK, fine, it’s just the Hall of Fame game between the Ravens and the Bears on Aug. 2. But it’s the first preseason game, and those games will be the closest thing to actual football that we’ve seen since the end of Super Bowl LII.

Who will have the funniest-looking Canton bust? Will it top Deion Sanders’ from 2011? Tune in for the induction ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 4 to find out. Oh, and congratulations to this year’s class: Brian Dawkins, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Brian Urlacher, Jerry Kramer, Robert Brazile, and Bobby Beathard.

Get to work: If your favorite team has players who are holding out, they’ll miss out on the chance to earn an accrued season if they don’t report to the team by Aug. 7. That’s also the deadline for unsigned rookies to ink a deal. If they don’t, they cannot be traded or sign with any other team in 2018.


Is your favorite team going to win it all this year? Experts will have strong opinions about it after seeing starters play few meaningful snaps in the preseason.

Roster cuts: Remember that undrafted free agent everyone got so excited about during training camp? Well, he’s probably getting cut sometime before NFL teams have to get their rosters down to 53 men at 4 p.m. ET on Sept. 1.

All is not lost: That under-the-radar guy your fan base loved could still be claimed by another team before 12 p.m. ET on Sept. 2. Sometime after that, teams can build out their 10-man practice squad, so he could land on one of those, also.

Good luck with this: Every NFL team has to have its entire roster under the salary cap by 12 a.m. ET on Sept. 6.

WOOOOOO FOOTBALL IS FINALLY BACK: The 2018 NFL season officially kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 6. The first NFL Sunday of 2018 is Sept. 9, and Week 1’s Monday Night Football matchup is Sept. 10.