On Tuesday, the NFL set its schedule for the next calendar year, setting in stone all critical dates between now and the start of next year’s spring practices. Before next offseason arrives, however, there are a number of important deadlines coming up.
Among those dates are the official cut-down dates for the upcoming preseason, as well as the 2022 trade deadline. Here’s a look at those critical dates during the season as well as a look ahead to next spring’s major events.
This year, the NFL is sticking with a three-phased roster cut process that it used for the first time in 2021. Several years ago, the league had a two-phase cut, trimming offseason rosters from 90 to 75 before the final cut-down to 53. That went away in 2018 and 2019, when the league voted to move to a single cut from 90 to 53, but 2020 found the NFL moving back to a two-step cut from 90 to 80 to 53 in 2020.
However, last year’s move to a three-game preseason coincided with a new approach. That will continue for this year as there will be cuts following each week of the preseason, first from 90 to 85, then to 80, and finally to the final 53-man roster. Here are the dates of those deadlines for 2022:
- Tuesday, August 16: cut from 90 to 85
- Tuesday, August 23: cut from 85 to 80
- Tuesday, August 30: cut from 80 to 53
Each of these deadlines takes place at 4:00 PM Eastern Time on the days listed. In conjunction with the roster cut to 53, the league will process waiver claims for players released at final cuts the following day (Wednesday, August 31st) at 12 noon Eastern time, after which time teams can begin signing players to their practice squads.
Additionally, August 31st is also the date after which players placed on injured reserve are eligible to return during the season. Teams must wait until after 4:00 PM ET on that date to preserve a player’s eligibility to return.
Processing final cuts on a Tuesday is a dramatic departure from years past, when the cut deadline was historically on a Saturday. However, with the weekend being idle for all teams, this provides all teams with more than full week to prepare for their week 1 games after finalizing their initial rosters, whereas past years saw the teams playing in the opening Thursday Night Football game having just a few days to do so.
Major 2023 Dates
While there are additional roster-related deadlines later on in the 2022 season, the bulk of the newly-announced important dates address the 2023 offseason. Those dates include the following:
- February 21: teams may begin using Franchise and Transition Tags
- February 28 — March 6: NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana
- March 7: deadline to use Franchise or Transition Tags
- March 13: Free agent negotiation (aka “Legal Tampering”) period begins at 12:00 Noon ET
- March 15: 2023 league year begins at 4:00 PM ET; unrestricted free agents may begin signing contracts; all teams must be below the salary cap; trades may begin to be processed
- April 17: Teams with returning head coaches can begin offseason workout programs
- April 27 — 29: 2023 NFL Draft, Kansas City, Missouri
- May 1: Deadline to exercise fifth-year options on 2020 first-round draft picks
- May 5-8 or May 12-15: Rookie minicamp dates
These deadlines lay out an offseason schedule for 2023 that looks nearly identical to that of 2022. Furthermore, the league’s decision to keep the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis for at least two more years will surely make all participants happy — players, teams, and media alike.