On your mark ... set ... your calendars!
Earlier this week, the Bears and the NFL released the official offseason schedule of formal dates and deadlines for their things to do and periods in which some key decisions can and will be made. It will likely be another month before we hear from general manager Ryan Pace and/or head coach John Fox for the first time since Jan. 4, when they addressed the media after the season finale. The team announced they won't be available to reporters at next week's Senior Bowl, but both spoke at last year's Scouting Combine. After that, odds are we won't hear another word until after their first major move in free agency, unless an agreement is reached with one of their 18 current unrestricted free agents. But a combination of Pace, Fox and members of their scouting department are already in Florida looking at the first group of NFL wanna-be's ahead of Saturday's first of back-to-back college all-star games. They'll then move on to Alabama for workouts and practices leading up to the final piece of game action they'll witness from prospective talent. Roster moves can then begin to be made two weeks from Monday.
Jan. 23: East-West Shrine Game (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Jan. 30: Senior Bowl (Mobile, Ala.)
Feb. 8: Waiver process can begin for teams with their current players
Feb. 16 through March 1: Two-week window in which teams can place franchise or transition tags on their own free agents (3 p.m. deadline)
Feb. 23 through 29: Scouting Combine (Indianapolis)
March 6 through 9: 64-hour window begins in which teams can enter into contract negotiations with representatives for free agents; in the Bears' case, they have from 11 p.m. on March 6 through 3 p.m. on March 9
March 9: Free agent signing and trading begins the new league year at 3 p.m.
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April 18: Offseason, off-the-field supervised workouts can begin for teams with returning coaches
April 22: Deadline for designated restricted free agents to sign offer sheets from other teams
April 28 through 30: NFL Draft (Chicago)
July 15: Deadline for free agents with a franchise tag to sign a multi-year extension with their team
The Bears have not yet publicly announced their dates for organized team activities and mandatory veteran minicamp. They normally hold a rookie minicamp the weekend following the draft (which in this case would be May 6 through 8).