Just getting started

You ever wonder why some teams fail and some consistently win? Besides measuring a roster for talent and a head coach for brains, there is a lot more moving parts to the NFL than meets the eye. Those teams that make all the right moves after the regular season seem to be consistently in the win column (along with having a great QB).

Here’s what coming down the pike:

Jan 15th: Final date for Underclassmen to declare for the draft: Most underclassmen that will declare have declared. Those players on Oregon and Ohio Sate may hold back out of respect for their team to make their announcement. Some teams who didn’t anticipate these players coming out might have to play catch up with those who did.

Jan 11th to 17th: The 90th East West Shrine Game held in St. Petersburg Florida. The Shrine game is usually full of players drafted between the 4th and 7th rounds. Don’t be surprised to see Packers GM Ted Thompson and other high profile personnel men here looking for mid-round gems. Two years ago, I had Packers rising star and DB Micah Hyde play in this game. His position coach for that week was former Packers CB Al Harris. This is the game where scouts can make their money by confirming their opinions on players they have on their short list. It’s also a game where a QB can make a big jump, like Jimmy Garoppolo did last year to the 62nd over all pick.

Jan 19th to the 24th: The Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. About one hundred of the best college players will descend on this bayou city to show NFL teams why they should be drafted. This is also the unofficial NFL convention of NFL coaches, agents, front office execs and top media. Behind the scenes, coaches and personnel men will be interviewed, hired, and fired. Agents will start to gather intel for interest in their draft picks and upcoming free agents. Media scribes will be milling around watching, listening and gathering for any scoop they can find. Those team’s evaluators who stay out of the bars at night and away from the gossip at practice may walk away from the week with meatier reports on the top draft prospects.

Jan 25th: 2015 Pro Bowl (University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona)

Jan 25th: 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. Those head coaches who aren’t afraid to wait for the best coaches to scoop up may be rewarded.

Feb. 1st: Super Bowl XLIX (University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona)

Feb. 2: Waiver system begins for 2015

Feb. 10: Beginning at Noon ET, NFL clubs may begin to sign players whose 2014 CFL contracts have expired.

Feb. 16: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

Feb. 17-23: NFL Scouting Combine (Indianapolis): This is where the fun really happens. New head coaches are rounding out their staff. Agents are getting bids on their free agents. Extensions are being negotiated for many players and draft prospects are actually being interviewed and evaluated.

March 2: Prior to 4 p.m. ET, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

March 7-10: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of Players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2014 contracts. At 4 p.m. ET on March 10. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m. ET on March 10.

March 10: Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must exercise options for 2015 on all players who have option clauses in their 2014 contracts.

Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.

Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain the exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2014 contracts and who have fewer three accrued seasons.

All 2014 player contracts expire at 4 p.m. ET

2015 league year and free agency period begins (4 p.m. ET)

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