Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Dates for the 2021 NFL Season

Here are some important dates to keep in mind as the 2021 season gets underway.

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The 2020 NFL season ended with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoisting (and in quarterback Tom Brady's case, throwing) the Lombardi trophy after the most unconventional season in league history. The Bucs will be known now as the 'defending Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers' as the 2021 season gets underway.

The new league year officially begins on March 17 and with it, free agency. But with question marks still looming as to how the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent protocols will affect the offseason especially, the dates below only go through the 2021 NFL Draft, which is still scheduled to take place at the end of April.

Read on for more pertinent dates and information.

MARCH

March 1

Deadline for eligible college football players to notify the NFL Player Personnel department of their intent to forgo the 2021 NFL Draft and return to college.

March 9

Prior to 4 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition players.

March 15 - 17

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 2020 player contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 17.

March 17

The 2021 league year and free agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time.

Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must exercise options for 2021 on all players who have option clauses in their 2020 contracts.

Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.

Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2020 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.

All 2020 player contracts will expire at 3:59:59 p.m., New York time.

The first day of the 2021 league year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 17. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 4:00 p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 17.

APRIL

April 5

Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2020 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.

April 19

Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.

April 23

Deadline for restricted free agents to sign.

April 28

Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.

April 29 - May 1

2021 NFL Draft, Cleveland, Ohio

Additional league dates and times to be announced.

All dates and times are tentative and subject to change.

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