After a long offseason, we're finally at the midway point of the NFL preseason, with regular season football just around the corner. Between now and Super Bowl XLIX, there are many important dates on the calendar for NFL teams:
August 21-24: Third preseason weekend.
August 26: Prior to 4:00 p.m. - New York time - teams must reduce their rosters to a maximum of 75 players on the active list. Most teams will have carried the full 90-man offseason roster through to this date.
August 27: All tryouts on this date - and for the remainder of the season - must be reported to the league office.
August 28: Final preseason games are played.
August 30: Prior to 4:00 p.m. - New York time - clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the active/inactive List. Look for Rams cast-off's to be coveted by other teams this year. A refreshing change from years past, when many players released by the Rams were left unsigned, their careers in the NFL coming to an abrupt end.
August 30: Simultaneously with the cut-down to 53, teams that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place the player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness (whichever is applicable), request waivers, terminate or trade the players contract, or continue to count the player on the active list. The various designations can be confusing. Over The Cap explains the various designations, in an article published last year (link).
August 31: The claiming period - for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction - will expire at 12:00 noon, New York time. Will the Rams be looking to the waiver wire for offensive line, linebacker, and safety depth?
August 31: Beginning at 12:00 noon - New York time - teams may establish a practice squad of 10 players, by signing free agents who do not have an accrued season of free agency credit, or who were on the 46-player active list for less than nine regular season games during each of any accrued seasons. A player cannot serve on the practice squad for more than three seasons. The practice squad is expected to expand from the current 8, to 10 players within the next week.
August 31: Final day of preseason training camp for all clubs, as defined in CBA Article 23, Section 9:
"Section 9. Definition of "Preseason Training Camp": For purposes of this Article, the term "PreseasonTraining Camp" shall be deemed to include the entire period from the beginning of training camp for any player through the last weekend of preseason games played by clubs during the league year in question."
September 2: After 4:00 p.m. - New York time - a club is permitted to place a player on Reserve/Injured as "Designated for Return." The Rams may use this designation on C/G Barrett Jones, depending on his expected recovery time from back surgery.
September 3: 4:00 p.m. - New York time - is the deadline for all NFL player contracts, practice player contracts, tender offers, and miscellaneous amounts to fit within each club’s 2014 salary cap, in anticipation of the midnight expiration of the Top-51 Rule. At midnight, off season salary cap rules change to regular season salary cap rules.
September 4: At 12:00 a.m. - New York time - the Top-51 Rule expires for all NFL clubs. The Top-51 rule is explained in an earlier salary cap article for TST (link).
September 4, 7-8: Regular season opens. The Rams open their season at home - on September 7 - hosting the Minnesota Vikings.
September 23: Beginning on the Tuesday following the third weekend of regular season games, the claiming priority is based on the inverse order of the standing of clubs in the current season’s games.
October 7-8: Fall League Meeting, New York City, New York.
October 14: Beginning the day after the conclusion of the sixth regular season weekend - and continuing through the day after the conclusion of the eleventh regular season weekend - clubs are permitted to begin practicing players on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform, and Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, for a period not to exceed 21 days. Players may be activated during the 21-day practice period or prior to 4:00 p.m. - New York time - on the day after the conclusion of the 21-day period.
October 28: All trading ends at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
October 29: Players with at least four previous pension-credited seasons are subject to the waiver system for the remainder of the regular season and postseason.
November 11: At 4:00 p.m. - New York time - the signing period ends for Franchise Players who are eligible to receive offer sheets.
November 11: Prior to 4:00 p.m - New York time - is the deadline for clubs to sign their unsigned Franchise and Transition Players, including Franchise Players who were eligible to receive offer sheets until this date. If still unsigned after this date, such players are prohibited from playing NFL football in 2014.
November 11: Prior to 4:00 p.m. - New York time - is the deadline for clubs to sign their Unrestricted Free Agents, to whom the "June 1 Tender" was made. If still unsigned after this date, such players are prohibited from playing NFL football in 2014.
November 11: Prior to 4:00 p.m. - New York time - is the deadline for clubs to sign their Restricted Free Agents, including those to whom the "June 1 Tender" was made. If such players remain unsigned after this date, they are prohibited from playing in NFL in 2014.
December 27: Prior to 4:00 p.m. - New York time - clubs must provide the Management Council with written notice, signed by the individual club’s owner, indicating the amount, if any, of the club’s 2014 league year salary cap room to be credited to the club’s 2015 team salary. This is more commonly known as the "Salary Cap Rollover".
December 28: 17th week of Regular Season games. The Rams again close out their season on the road versus the Seattle Seahawks.
December 29: Clubs may begin signing free agent players for the 2015 season. These signings are more commonly known as "futures contracts".
December 29: Earliest permissible date for clubs to renegotiate or extend the rookie contract of a drafted rookie who was selected in any round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Any permissible renegotiated or extended player contract will not be considered a rookie contract, and will not be subject to the rules that limit rookie contracts.
December 29: Option exercise period begins for a Fifth-Year Option for first-round selections from the 2012 NFL Draft. To exercise the option, the club must give written notice to the player on or after December 29, 2014 but prior to May 3, 2015. For the Rams, the Fifth-Year Option will apply to DT Michael Brockers, selected 14th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.
January 3-4: Wild Card Playoff Games.
January 4: Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs - that have byes in the Wild Card weekend - may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the Wild Card games.
January 10-11: Divisional Playoff Games.
January 11: Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs - that won their Wild Card games - may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games.
January 17: East-West Shrine Game, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida.
January 18: AFC and NFC Championship Games.
January 24: Senior Bowl, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama.
January 25: AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona.
January 25: An assistant coach, whose team is participating in the Super Bowl, who has previously interviewed for another club’s head coaching job, may have a second interview with such club no later than the Sunday preceding the Super Bowl.
February 1: Super Bowl XLIX, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona.
The league dates provided herein are courtesy of the National Football League - Media Relations.