The Bengals conclude their season on Sunday, January 1 with a 1:00 p.m. ET game at Paul Brown Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens. Their offseason will begin one day later, which will be the earliest start to the offseason the Bengals have experienced since the 2010 season. In the weeks ahead, we’ll have the playoffs to watch (without any possibility of a Wild Card loss for the Bengals), the East-West Shrine game, the Senior Bowl, the Super Bowl, the NFL Combine, the start of free agency, and eventually on the last weekend of April, the 2017 NFL Draft. Here are all of the key dates to know and keep in mind as the offseason nears.
Jan. 2 — Earliest permissible date for clubs to renegotiate or extend the rookie contract of a drafted rookie who was selected in any round of the 2014 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.
Jan. 2 — Option exercise period begins for Fifth-Year Option for first round picks from the 2014 NFL Draft. To exercise the option, the club must give written notice to the player on or after Jan. 2, 2017, but prior to May 3, 2017.
Jan. 7-8 — Wild Card Playoffs.
Jan. 8 — Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that have byes during Wild Card weekend may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the Wild Card games.
Jan. 14-15 — Divisional Playoffs.
Jan. 15 — 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.
Jan. 16 — Deadline for college players that are underclassmen to apply for special eligibility. A list of players who are accepted into the NFL Draft will be transmitted to clubs on Jan. 20.
Jan. 21 — East-West Shrine Game, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Jan. 22 — AFC and NFC Championship Games.
Jan. 28 — Senior Bowl, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.
Jan. 29 — NFL Pro Bowl, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
Jan. 29 — 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.
Feb. 5 — Super Bowl LI, NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas.
Feb. 15 — First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Tag players.
Feb. 28-March 6 — Combine Timing and Testing, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
March 1 — Prior to 4 p.m. Eastern, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition players.
March - Draft — Pro Days
March 7-9 — During the period beginning at noon Eastern on March 7 and ending at 3:59:59 p.m. Eastern on March 9, 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 2016 player contracts at 4 p.m. Eastern on March 9. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m. Eastern on March 9.
March 7-9 — During the above two-day negotiating period, no direct contact is permitted between a prospective unrestricted free agent and any employee or representative of a club, other than the player’s current club.
March 9 — The 2017 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4 p.m. Eastern. The first day of the 2017 League Year will end at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern on March 9. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the League office during the period between 4 p.m. Eastern and 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern on March 9.
March 9 — Trading period for 2017 begins at 4 p.m. Eastern, after expiration of all 2016 contracts.
March 26-29 — Annual League Meeting, Phoenix, Ariz.
April 3 — Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2016 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
April 17 — Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 21 — Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
April 26 — Deadline for prior club to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents.
April 27-29 — NFL Draft, Philadelphia, Pa.
Feb. 4, 2018 — Super Bowl LII, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn.