Running back Thomas Rawls during Seahawks minicamp, Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in Renton. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)
The NFL today announced a number of key dates for the 2017-18 season.
Here’s a quick look at those dates and a few thoughts on what they might mean for the Seahawks.
July 30 or so: Beginning of training camp — The Seahawks have yet to announce when their training camp will officially begin. But NFL rules state teams cannot open camp more than 15 days before a team’s first preseason game. Seattle opens the preseason Aug. 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers so that means camp can’t open until July 30 or so.
Sept. 2: Cutdown to 53 players — Recall that the NFL altered its rules on roster cutdowns this year and instead of their being two dates — one to cutdown to 75 and then another to 53 — now there is just one to set the roster at the regular season limit of 53. That could place a bit more importance on the final preseason game for players battling for the final roster spots. It also simply means teams will have more players for that final game so they can rest even more of those who they figure will be on the final 53.
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Sept. 3: Formation of practice squads — Teams can form their 10-man practice squads the day after rosters are cut to 53 and players have cleared waivers. That’s an important point to remember as teams cannot simply place players on the practice squad without exposing them to waivers first where they can then by any other team to its 53-man roster. Players also at that point can sign with any other team’s practice squad if they desire. But teams typically are all trying to do basically the same thing — re-sign 10 players who just spent training camp with them and know their playbook, etc. Still, gauging a player’s possible attractiveness via waivers is always a consideration for teams when deciding who to keep and who to waive.
Oct. 31: Trade deadline — For the Seahawks, who have a bye in week six, the trade deadline will come smack in the middle of the season after the eighth game of the year against the Houston Texans on Oct. 29. Trades aren’t real common in the NFL, but you never know.
Feb. 4: Super Bowl in Minnesota — Okay, this date has been set for a while. But this is the ultimate goal the teams are shooting for this season and, well, Seattle has done well in years the Super Bowl is in cold weather, making it in 2006 in Detroit and 2014 in New Jersey.
Feb. 20: First day teams can place franchise tags on players — Seattle has not used its franchise tag since 2010 when it was placed on kicker Olindo Omare. But Seattle could have a pretty long and interesting list of free agents next season such as tight end Jimmy Graham, safety Kam Chancellor and center Justin Britt (assuming they haven’t already signed extensions) that could make the tag something it might more seriously consider.
Feb 27-March 5: NFL Combine in Indianapolis — The Combine in 2018 will again be about a week later than it was for a few years when it was often in the third week of February.
March 14: Beginning of free agency — However, the free agent signing period will begin a few days later in 2018 than it did this season, when it was on March 9, meaning it began almost the minute the combine ended. As noted earlier, the Seahawks could have a pretty long list of free agents next season led by Graham, Britt and Chancellor but also including the likes of Eddie Lacy, Bradley McDougald, Luke Joeckel, Luke Willson, Paul Richardson, Cassius Marsh and DeShawn Shead, potentially making the free agent period much more active for Seattle than it has been in years.
March 25-28: NFL League Meetings — The meetings next year will be held in Orlando. The Seahawks made as much news as anyone at the league meetings in 2017 with the public confirmation that Richard Sherman was available to be had via a trade for the right (and ultimately, too hefty for anyone to match) price.
April 26-28: NFL Draft — It’s unclear yet where the draft will be held, but the general format remains the same, with the first round on the first day and the entire event held over three days. I’m not quite ready to do a Seahawks mock draft yet, though.