The NFL’s busy offseason includes free agency, the draft and training camp. Grab a calendar and mark down these key dates that impact the Bears leading up to the 2016 regular season:
January 23: East-West Shrine Game, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida.
January 23: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, StubHub Center, Carson, California.
January 24: AFC and NFC Championship Games.
January 30: Senior Bowl, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama.
January 31: NFL Pro Bowl, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii.
January 31: Deadline for NFL clubs to try out and negotiate with CFL players whose 2015 contracts are due to expire at 12:00 p.m. EST, on February 9.
February 7: Super Bowl 50, Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California.
February 8: Waiver system begins for 2016.
February 9: Beginning at 12:00 p.m. EST, NFL clubs may begin to sign players whose 2015 CFL contracts have expired. Players under contract to a CFL club for the 2016 season or who have an option for the 2016 season are not eligible to be signed.
February 16: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
February 23-29: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.
March 1: Prior to 4:00 p.m., EST, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 7-9: Beginning at 12:00 p.m. EST, 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 2015 player contracts at 4:00 p.m., EST, on March 9. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., EST, on March 9.
March 9: Prior to 4:00 p.m., EST, clubs must exercise options for 2016 on all players who have option clauses in their 2015 contracts.
March 9: Prior to 4:00 p.m., EST, 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.
March 9: Prior to 4:00 p.m., EST, clubs must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2015 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
March 9: Top-51 Begins. All clubs must be under the 2016 salary cap prior to 4:00 p.m., EST.
March 9: All 2015 player contracts expire at 4:00 p.m., EST.
March 9: The 2016 league year and free agency period begins at 4:00 p.m., EST.
The first day of the 2016 league year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., EST, on March 9. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 4:00 p.m., EST, and 11:59:59 p.m., EST, on March 9.
March 9: Trading period for 2016 begins at 4:00 p.m., EST, after expiration of all 2015 contracts.
March 20-23: Annual League Meeting, Boca Raton, Florida.
April 18: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 22: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
April 28-30: 2016 NFL Draft, Chicago.
April 30: After the final selection in the draft has been made, clubs may begin signing Undrafted Free Agents who were eligible for the 2016 Draft.
May 6-9: First weekend after the NFL Draft: clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
May 9: Rookie Football Development Program Begins.
May 13-16: Second weekend after the NFL Draft: clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
May 19-22: NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Invited Rookies (typically, first and/or second-round selections) must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. Such players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days, and minicamps during this period.
May 23-25: NFL Spring League Meeting, Charlotte, North Carolina.
June 1: Deadline for prior club to send "June 1 Tender" to its unsigned Restricted Free Agents who received a qualifying offer for a Right of First Refusal Only in order for such player to be subject to the CBA's "June 15 Tender" provision.
June 2: For any player removed from the club's roster or whose contract is assigned via waivers or trade on or after June 2, any unamortized signing bonus amounts for future years will be included fully in Team Salary at the start of the 2017 League Year.
June 15: Deadline for club to withdraw qualifying offer to Restricted Free Agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting "June 15 Tender" of one-year contract at 110 percent of the player's prior-year Paragraph 5 Salary (with all other terms of his prior-year contract carried forward unchanged).
June 19-25: Rookie Symposium, Aurora, Ohio.
July 15: At 4:00 p.m., EST, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2016 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club's last regular season game.
Mid-July: Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club's earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players.
Veteran players (defined as a player with at least one pension-credited season) other than quarterbacks or "injured players" (as defined in CBA Article 21, Section 6) may report to a club's preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the club's first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later.
Veteran quarterbacks and injured players may be required to report to the club's preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately prior to the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players, provided the club has already opened (or simultaneously opens) its official preseason training camp for all rookies and first-year players.
A three-day acclimation period will apply to players who are on a Club's roster up to and including the mandatory veteran reporting date. Players who join the roster after that date may practice (including wearing pads) and play immediately after passing a physical.
July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later): Signing Period ends for unrestricted Free Agents to whom a "May 10 Tender" was made by prior club. After this date and until 4:00 p.m., EST, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.
July 22: Signing Period ends for Transition Players with outstanding tenders. After this date and until 4:00 p.m., EST, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.