The NFL's busy offseason is highlighted by the Combine, free agency and the draft. Grab a calendar and mark down these key dates that impact the Bears and the rest of the league leading up to the 2022 season:
February 22-March 8: NFL clubs may designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 1-7: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.
March 8: College Pro Days begin. Workouts of a school's Pro Day-eligible players with players outside of the scheduled Pro Day activities are prohibited. Private dinners, meetings and interviews are permitted.
March 8-April 20: NFL teams can host up to 30 non-local draft-eligible players at their facilities for visits and physical exams, but on-field workouts are prohibited.
March 8-April 27: NFL clubs can conduct video or telephone interviews with draft-eligible players, with a maximum of three video or telephone interviews per player, no longer than one hour in length.
March 14-16: Beginning at 11 a.m. (CT) on March 14, 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 2021 player contracts. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 3 p.m. (CT) on March 16.
March 16: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must exercise options for 2022 on all players who have option clauses in their 2021 contracts.
March 16: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation. The Bears are slated to have five restricted free agents: Running back Ryan Nall, tight end J.P. Holtz, offensive lineman Alex Bars, cornerback Xavier Crawford and safety Teez Tabor.
March 16: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2021 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
March 16: Top 51 begins. All clubs must be under the 2022 salary cap prior to 3 p.m. (CT).
March 16: All 2021 player contracts expire at 3 p.m. (CT).
March 16: The 2022 league year and free agency period begin at 3 p.m. (CT).
March 16: The first day of the 2022 league year will end at 10:59:59 p.m. (CT). 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. (CT).
March 16: Trading period for 2022 begins at 3 p.m. (CT) after expiration of all 2021 contracts.
March 27-30: Annual League Meeting, The Breakers, Palm Beach, Fla.
April 4: Teams with new head coaches can begin offseason workout programs. The Bears are one of nine NFL clubs with a new head coach; the others are the Vikings, Giants, Saints, Broncos, Jaguars, Dolphins, Texans and Raiders.
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: 2022 NFL Draft, Las Vegas.
May 2: Deadline for NFL teams to exercise Fifth-Year Options for players selected in the first round of the 2019 draft.
May 6-9 or 13-16: Clubs can hold their three-day rookie minicamps from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday on one of the two weekends following the draft.
May 16: Rookie Football Development Programs begin.
May 19-22: NFLPA Rookie Premiere (tentative).
May 23-25: Spring League Meeting, TBA.
June 1: Deadline for prior club to send "June 1 tender" to its unsigned RFAs 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 15: Deadline for clubs to withdraw qualifying offers to RFAs 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 Readiness Program to be held at individual clubs.