Key 2021 NFL Free Agency dates for your LA Rams calendar
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams are finally closing out of the 2020 NFL season, and are about to begin the trek into the new football year. That process involves a great number of moving parts, and they all seem to possess their own rhythm. So we try to pause before it happens to lay out the upcoming timelines.
There are three different events that occur at the start of any new NFL season, each of which is scheduled independently of the other, but all of which are synchronized and can occur simultaneously. Of course, I am referring to the 2021 NFL Free Agency market, the 2021 NFL Draft, and the 2021 NFL season.
If you recall, the entire NFL schedule for 2020 was eventually scrapped due to the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. Plans for attending NFL Pro Days, the NFL Draft, organized team activities (OTAs), and preseason games were all scrapped unceremoniously. In the end, the NFL and NFLPA did a remarkable job of reformatting and rescheduling critical components to ensure that last season happened.
Key Dates to Know in the NFL Offseason
February 23 – March 9 at 1:00 pm PT
Franchise & Transition Tags may now be applied to one player per team. The Rams have a choice to retain one free agent by the use of the Franchise or Transition tag. To understand what that entails, you can check out our article about the Rams’ choices for tags here.
Before March 17 at 1:00 pm PT
The LA Rams must also evaluate their two ERFAs and two RFAs. In short, the Rams must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights for both Exclusive Rights Free Agents (Coleman Shelton and Travin Howard).
Similarly, the Rams must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents (Johnny Mundt and Darious Williams) to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation. To learn more about ERFAs, RFAs, and qualifying offers, you can check out this article that goes into detail about that process.
March 15 – 17
The legal negotiating window ahead of NFL Free Agency. What this means is that NFL teams are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, and reach an agreement with the certified agents of players who are about to become Unrestricted Free Agents at the start of the new NFL season. This is also known as the Legal Tampering Period.
March 17 at 1:00 pm PT
Happy New League Year! The NFL Free Agency market officially opens, and Unrestricted Free Agents can sign contracts with any team. The blockbuster trade for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford can become official now.
New coaches will be able to conduct their offseason workout programs. This will not affect the LA Rams.
All other coaches will now be able to conduct their offseason workout programs. For now, it appears that much (if not all) of this will be conducted in a similar virtual format as 2020.
Phase One – Two weeks
Phase Two – Three weeks
Phase Three – 4 weeks total
OTAs: 3 weeks for ten total OTA’s
Minicamp: 2 practice days.
Deadline for clubs to sign RFAs from other teams. Keep in mind that a new team will submit an offer sheet, which is the proposed new contract. The original team will have seven days to match that offer. If they cannot or choose not to do so, then any draft compensation enacted by the original team will be triggered.
Deadline for RFAs to sign their tender offer sheets.
April 29 – May 1
The 2021 NFL Draft from Cleveland, Ohio. This will likely be a virtual event, and the LA Rams currently have picks in the following rounds:
Round two – 1
Round three – 2
Round four – 1
Round six – 1
Round seven – 1
While May 2021 may seem a far distant date on the horizon, 2021 is already two months old. As you can see by the calendar above, events are about to occur quickly. This will most certainly be a wild ride for this offseason. Buckle up and keep your hands and feet in the vehicle throughout the ride.
Here we go!