As is custom, we’ve rounded up key offseason dates here, and this article will evolve as we learn more specifics about the team’s offseason program. Be sure to bookmark it!
Key offseason dates
January 18: East-West Shrine Bowl
One of the early showcases for prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft, and one the Falcons always diligently attend. A lot of fine players played in it last year, and TE Carson Meier (who just signed a reserve/futures deal with the Falcons), Qadree Ollison (selected in the fifth round in 2019) are on the team as a result of that scouting.
January 19: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
January 25: Senior Bowl
The Falcons love seniors. This annual bowl is a big deal for most NFL teams and Atlanta is no exception, as they added multiple players partly as a result of spending time with them at the Senior Bowl. Those players were OG Chris Lindstrom, (first round pick), OT Kaleb McGary (another first round pick), and DE John Cominsky (fourth round pick), and you can bet they’ll land multiple players who participate in the Senior Bowl again this year. Don’t sleep on it.
January 31: Deadline to negotiate with CFL players
The Falcons don’t tend to take advantage of this deadline.
February 3: Waivers begin
February 24-March 3rd: NFL Scouting Combine
This is the big meat market, where college players with invites are poked, prodded, and run through drills. The Falcons will inevitably fall in love with someone’s athleticism here and either make him a pick or a priority undrafted free agent later, and it’s fun to keep track of the visits and interviews here, even if most of the players the Falcons talk to won’t get anywhere near the team.
February 25: NFL teams can now designate Franchise or Transition players
The Falcons won’t use this immediately, but it’s entirely possible that Austin Hooper or De’Vondre Campbell could be tagged if the team’s contract talks break down and they want to keep one of them around badly enough.
March 10: Deadline to designate Franchise or Transition players
If the Falcons are going to do it, they’ll have to do it by this day.
March 16-March 18: Legal tampering
This is the time when the Falcons will be able to negotiate with the agents of impending free agents from other teams. I don’t expect the Falcons to be major players in free agency, but they almost always have a priority target or two they get under contract shortly after free agency opens, and this time will be valuable for those purposes.
March 18: Teams must exercise club options, submit offers to RFAs, qualifying offers to ERFAs, top 51 rule begins, new league year starts
The first item is relevant for Matt Schaub, who has a club option for a little over $2 million in 2020. I expect the Falcons to exercise it given that they can then cut ties with him later for $2 million in savings if Kurt Benkert or Danny Etling wins the backup job.
Restricted free agents like Brian Hill must be tendered at this point if the Falcons want to keep them. Ditto their lone ERFA, WR Brandon Powell.
The Falcons must be under the cap by this point, and they will be.
With the new league year beginning, teams can sign free agents and make trades. As I said, expect movement on 1-2 guys in the first couple days of free agency, then a relatively quiet period. Hopefully the Falcons have the guys they want to keep from their own roster under contract before this point.
April 17: RFAs must accept offers
April 20: Falcons can start offseason workouts
April 23-25: 2020 NFL Draft
The Falcons have four selections on the draft’s first two days, which will be absolutely critical for infusing this expensive, top-heavy team with young talent. I couldn’t be looking forward to the draft more this year, especially after the team appears to have done a nice job with their 2019 class, minus a couple of selections.
April 27: Clubs can sign XFL players
May 1-4; May 8-11: Clubs can hold rookie minicamps
We’ll add to this once we know when Falcons minicamps, OTAs, and training camp will be happening, but this will carry us through the first five months or the year or so. A long way to go until we get more Falcons football, for better or for worse.