Despite having the shortest season among major American sports, the NFL has become a year-long source of news and intrigue. Ultimately, though, it’s all about the games. So, how long does the NFL offseason last? When will there be football again, and what typically goes on when there are no games being played?
How Long Is the NFL’s Offseason?
The NFL season runs from the second week in September through the second week in February. Once the Super Bowl ends, the NFL offseason immediately begins. As the term suggests, “off” season refers to the time period during which the NFL season is not active.
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Surprisingly, there may not be an objective answer to this question. For my purposes, the offseason runs from the day after the Super Bowl until the first practice ahead of the season’s Thursday night opener. In 2023, that would be from February 12 until about September 1.
Do NFL Players Get Paid in the Offseason?
Surprisingly, NFL players largely do not get paid in the offseason. Their contracts are structured such that they are paid mostly for playing in regular-season games. That is where the bulk of their pay comes from.
NFL players get paid for playing in and winning playoff games. They get paid for participating in the Pro Bowl, as well.
In the offseason, NFL players typically begin receiving pay when training camp starts. Some players will have clauses in their contracts that award bonuses for participating in offseason workouts. Otherwise, NFL players receive their weekly paychecks from training camp through Week 18, plus any potential playoff bonuses.
The only other potential offseason pay players may receive is from roster bonuses or signing bonuses. These monies are negotiated with a player’s contract and can be paid out at whatever time the two sides agree on. It’s possible some players may opt to receive bonus pay during the time of the year in which they are not receiving game checks.
Can NFL Teams Trade During the Offseason?
The NFL allows trading pretty much year-round. During the regular season, there is a trade deadline, beyond which teams can no longer make trades. That occurs following Week 8 of the season.
While the offseason may begin immediately after the Super Bowl, the previous season does not officially end until the NFL turns the calendar over to the following year.
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For example, the 2022 NFL season technically did not end until March 15, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. ET. At that time, the 2023 season officially began. Teams can formalize trades from the start of the league year until the Tuesday following Week 8 of the season.
If you keep tabs on the NFL during the offseason, you may notice trades occur after the Super Bowl but before the start of the new league year.
In those instances, NFL teams are negotiating trades and agreeing to terms, but they cannot formally submit the trade to the league for official processing until the new league year begins.
What Are the Important Offseason Dates?
After the aforementioned start of the new league year on March 15, the NFL has several other key offseason dates fans should know about.
- March 15: New league year begins
- April 27-29: NFL Draft
- May 11(ish): The 2023 schedule release
- July 7: Deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign their tag
- Late July: Training camps begin
- August 3: Preseason begins with the Hall of Fame game
- Late August: Teams must cut rosters down to 53 players
- September 7: The 2023 regular season begins
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