For the Indianapolis Colts, the offseason is officially here. These are the important dates on the NFL calendar that Indy must be prepared for.
The 2022 season is finally over for the Indianapolis Colts. What was expected to be a fun and exciting season turned into an underwhelming and embarrassing year for the 4-12-1 Colts. Indianapolis now enters a pivotal offseason with the opportunity to turn things around. With a coaching search, the NFL Draft, and free agency, Indy will have the opportunity to transform itself into a contender this offseason. However, this won’t be done all at once.
The NFL has an organized league calendar that explicitly states when teams can do certain things. From negotiating contract extensions to interviewing coaches and trading for other players, there is a start and end date for every process in the NFL. Let’s take a look at the dates on the calendar and how they impact the Colts.
NFL offseason dates for Colts
January 9: The first day after the regular season allows teams many opportunities. If interested in anyone, the Colts can start signing available free agents for the 2023 season. This doesn’t include players on other teams that will become free agents later in the offseason. This date also gives teams permission to “renegotiate or extend the Rookie Contract of a Drafted Rookie who was selected in any round of the 2020 College Draft or any Undrafted Rookie who signed in 2021.”
This is especially important for Indianapolis because the team has several players from the 2020 Draft that should be around long term. That includes Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr., Julian Blackmon, and Isaiah Rodgers. Chris Ballard is all about retaining talent, so now he can start that process.
Monday, January 9, is also the day that Indy can start interviewing coaches that are already on staff or that aren’t currently employed by the NFL. So that means candidates like Bubba Ventrone or Jim Harbaugh can now be interviewed.
January 17-19: These are the dates that teams can start doing in-person interviews for coaches on other teams’ staff. That includes Sean Payton since he’s technically still under contract with the New Orleans Saints.
February 21: This is the first day a team can assign franchise or transition tags to players. This isn’t a process the Colts really use. The last time Indy used the franchise tag was in 2013 for Pat McAfee.
February 28: This is the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine and will serve as the official kickoff of draft season Since Indy has the fourth-overall pick, and could trade up, the team will be a big focus for the league during this time.
March 7: Following the conclusion of The Combine, this is the first day that Pro Days can start and also the first day that teams can host prospects and do virtual interviews.
March 13: This starts the two-day negotiating period before free agency. Teams can’t officially sign players yet but they can begin contacting pending free agents.
March 15: This is the start of the new league year and also the first official day of free agency. It’s the day when the pen can be put to paper for free agents to join new teams. Although the Colts have historically been patient on the first day of free agency under Chris Ballard, this is the year that they should be aggressive. This is also when trades can begin.
April 3: Since Indianapolis will hire a new head coach this offseason, this is the day that Indy will be permitted to start offseason workout programs. Teams who don’t have a new head coach will have to wait an additional two weeks.
April 27: The start of the three-day 2023 NFL Draft. The Colts currently have seven total picks, including the fourth-overall selection, so it should be a big weekend for Indianapolis.
May 5: Each team is allowed a three-day rookie minicamp and it can either be May 5 to May 8 or May 12 to May 15.
If Indianapolis is proactive throughout the offseason and maximizes all of these periods, the Colts should be able to field a competitive team going into next season and have a much better year than they did in 2022.