When the Senior Bowl announced the Bengals would be coaching in the game, it was an important marker to the 2020 offseason. The Senior Bowl is a great opportunity for the Bengals to kickoff the offseason because it is the nation's most prestigious college all-star game.
While the official start of the 2020 NFL league year is Wednesday, March 18, preparation for the season is well underway.
Grab a calendar and mark down these key dates that impact the Bengals and the rest of the league leading up to the 2020 season.
- Jan. 25: The Senior Bowl will take place at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
- Jan. 26: NFL Pro Bowl, played this year at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
- Feb. 2: Super Bowl LIV, Hard Rock Stadium, South Florida.
- Feb. 3: The NFL waiver system will begin for the 2020 season.
- Feb. 24 - March 2: The NFL Scouting Combine will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
- Feb. 25: Clubs can begin to designate franchise and transition tags.
- March 10: The deadline for teams to designate franchise and transition tags ends at 4 p.m. ET.
- March 16-19: NFL teams are permitted to begin the "legal tampering period" before free agency begins. Teams are allowed to contact and enter contract negotiations with certified agents of players who will be Unrestricted Free Agents.
- March 18: The deadline for teams to exercise options for the 2020 season on all players who have option clauses in their contracts is 4 p.m. ET. Teams must also submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation by 4 p.m. ET. Teams must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2019 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit by 4 p.m. ET. The Top 51 Rule goes into effect. This means all teams must be under the 2020 salary cap by 4 p.m. ET. All 2019 contracts expire and the 2020 league year begins with free agency at 4 p.m. ET. Teams will receive a notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 4 p.m. ET and 11:59 p.m. ET. The trading period will also begin at this time.
- March 29-April 1: The NFL will host its annual league meeting in Palm Beach, Florida.
- April 6: Newly hired head coaches may begin their offseason workout programs.
- April 17: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.
- April 20: Teams with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
- April 23-25: 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- April 27: Beginning this date, NFL clubs may request permission to visit with, try out, or sign any player who was under contract to the XFL at the conclusion of the XFL season.
- May 1-4: Teams may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday-Sunday or Saturday-Monday.
- May 5: Deadline for prior club to send "May 5 Tender" to its unsigned Unrestricted Free agents. If the player has not signed a player contract with a club by July 22 or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later, he may negotiate or sign a player contract from that date until the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, at 4 p.m ET, only with his prior club.
- May 8-11: Clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
- May 11: Rookie Football Development Programs begin.
- May 14-17: NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Invited rookies (typically, first- and/or second-round selections) must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. Such players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days, and minicamps during this period.
- May 19-20: Spring League Meeting, Marina Del Rey, Calif.
- June 1: Deadline for prior club to send "June 1 Tender" to its unsigned Restricted Free agents who received a qualifying offer for a right of first refusal only in order for such player to be subject to the CBA's "June 15 Tender" provision.
- June 15: Deadline for club to withdraw qualifying offer to Restricted Free Agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting "June 15 Tender" of one-year contract at 110 percent of the player's prior-year salary (with all other terms of his prior-year contract carried forward unchanged).
- Late June: Rookie Transition Program to be held at individual clubs.
- July 15: At 4 p.m. ET, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2020 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club's last regular season game.
- Mid-July: Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies beginning seven days prior to the club's earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players. Veteran players (defined as a player with at least one pension-credited season) other than quarterbacks or "injured players" may report to a club's preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the club's first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later. Veteran quarterbacks and injured players may be required to report to the club's preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately prior to the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players, provided the club has already opened (or simultaneously opens) its official preseason training camp for all rookies and first-year players. A three-day acclimation period will apply to players who are on a club's roster up to and including the mandatory veteran reporting date. Players who rejoin the roster after that date may practice (including wearing pads) and play immediately after passing a physical.
- July 22: Signing period ends for Unrestricted Free Agents to whom a "May 5 Tender" was made by prior club. After this date and until 4 p.m. ET, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights. Or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later.
- July 22: Signing period ends for Transition Players with outstanding tenders. After this date and until 4 p.m. ET, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.
- Aug. 6: Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
- Sept. 5: Clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.
- Sept. 10, 13-14: Regular season Week 1.
Dates for the Bengals' Minicamp, OTAs and Training Camp will be announced at a later date. Information provided by NFL operations.