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2016 NFL Free Agency: Your schedule for the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft

Free agency lies ahead, and the Falcons have a lot of work to do.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency is almost here for the Falcons, who face one of the league's toughest slates in 2016 and have a half-dozen to a dozen major holes they need filled with only five draft picks. They'll be active this year, in other words, and you'll want to be paying close attention.

The most critical dates on the schedule are right around the corner, with the Falcons allowed to begin legal tampering next Monday, and the actual opening of free agency on Wednesday. You should fully expect Atlanta to land a couple of free agents on the first day, though I'm not nearly gifted enough to predict who those players will be.

From ESPN:

March 7-9: Clubs are permitted to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m. ET on March 9.

March 9: 2016 league year begins. Free-agency period begins at 4 p.m. ET.

March 20-23: Annual league meeting, Boca Raton, Florida.

April 4: Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2015 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.

April 18: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.

April 22: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.

Mid-to-late April: 2016 schedule release

April 28-30: 2016 NFL Draft, Chicago.