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 2017 regular season:
January 21: East-West Shrine Game, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida.
January 21: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, StubHub Center, Carson, California.
January 22: AFC and NFC Championship Games.
January 28: Senior Bowl, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama.
January 29: NFL Pro Bowl, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida.
January 31: Deadline for NFL clubs to try out and negotiate with CFL players whose 2016 contracts are due to expire at 11 a.m. (CT), on February 14.
February 7: Super Bowl LI, NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas.
February 6: Waiver system begins for 2016.
February 14: Beginning at 11 a.m. (CT), NFL clubs may begin to sign players whose 2016 CFL contracts have expired. Players under contract to a CFL club for the 2017 season or who have an option for the 2017 season are not eligible to be signed.
February 15: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
February 28-March 6: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.
March 1: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 7-9: Beginning at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 7, 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. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 3 p.m. (CT), on March 9.
March 9: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must exercise options for 2017 on all players who have option clauses in their 2016 contracts.
March 9: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), 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 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2016 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
March 9: Top-51 Begins. All clubs must be under the 2017 salary cap prior to 3 p.m. (CT).
March 9: All 2016 player contracts expire at 3 p.m. (CT).
March 9: The 2017 league year and free agency period begin at 3 p.m. (CT).
The first day of the 2017 league year will end at 10:59:59 p.m. (CT) on March 9. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 3 p.m. and 10:59:59 p.m. on March 9.
March 9: Trading period for 2017 begins at 3 p.m. (CT) after expiration of all 2016 contracts.
March 26-29: Annual League Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona.
April 17: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 21: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.
April 27-29: 2017 NFL Draft, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
May 5-8: 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: Deadline for prior club to send “May 9 Tender” to its unsigned Unrestricted Free Agents. If the player has not signed a contract with a club by July 22 or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later, he may negotiate or sign a contract from that date until the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season only with his prior club.
May 12-15: 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 15: Rookie Football Development Program Begins.
May 18-21: 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 22-24: NFL Spring League Meeting, Chicago, Illinois.
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 2018 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).
Late June: Rookie Transition Program to be held at individual clubs. Attendance is mandatory for all rookies.
July 15: At 3 p.m. (CT), 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 2017 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 9 Tender” was made by prior club. After this date and until 3 p.m. (CT) 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 3 p.m. (CT) on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.
Aug. 3: Hall of Fame Game, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio.
Aug. 5: Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio.