Here are some dates to keep in mind around the NFL.
February 20: Franchise Tag
Teams can apply a franchise tag on one of their free agents, preventing that player from signing with a new team. That player will receive the average of the top-five salaries at his position, all of which will be guaranteed. There are various levels of franchising -- exclusive and non-exclusive -- that could allow another team to acquire that player but usually at such a cost (losing draft selections) that teams generally avoid.
February 22-28: NFL Combine
The annual NFL Combine in Indianapolis will kickoff on Wednesday, February 22, showcasing this year's top prospects. Coverage will be live on NFL Network and NFL.com.
March 5: Deadline to Apply The Franchise Tag
If teams fail to use their franchise tag on a player by this date, then that player will be available for free agency.
March 13: Free Agency Begins At 4 p.m.
At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13, the new league year begins and free agency kicks off, allowing unrestricted free agents to sign with any team they wish. If a team tenders a restricted free agent, then the level of that tender dictates the compensation for the original team if another team signs that player to an offer. Exclusive-rights free agents will be unable to sign with a new team no matter what if the original team tenders that player a deal.
March 25-28: NFL Owner's Meeting
March 30-31: Super Regional Combine
Much like the National Combine in late February, the Super Regional Combine invites players that attended NFL Regional Combines, giving prospects that did not take part during the National Combine in Indianapolis an opportunity to conduct drills in front of all 32 teams.
April 26-28: 2012 NFL Draft
The first round will start on April 26, with the second and third rounds taking place on April 27 and the final four rounds on April 28.
Late July: Training Camp Begins
The Cincinnati Bengals will kickoff the 2012 Training Camp at Paul Brown Stadium.
September 6: Regular Season Kicks Off
The New York Giants will launch the new season, hosting a yet-to-be-determined opponent. Some speculate that it'll be the New Orleans Saints.