Cleveland Browns: Key offseason dates to remember
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns have plenty of work to do as they go through another rebuild. Here are some important dates to remember in the coming months.
The Cleveland Browns are going to be busy in the coming months as the team goes through its biennial rebuilding project.
Head coach Hue Jackson still needs to fill out his coaching staff, free agents need to be resigned or signed away from other teams, and the Browns need to set their draft board for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Here are the important offseason dates over the next few months and how they apply to the Browns:
Jan. 30: Senior Bowl. The Browns, holders of the No. 2 overall selection as well as the top pick in the second round of the draft, will be in Mobile, Ala., to scout some of the nation’s top seniors as they prepare for the draft. The biggest name to watch may be quarterback Carson Wentz from North Dakota State.
Feb. 8: The morning after Super Bowl 50 is the first day teams can place players on waivers for 2016. That means it’s the first day the Browns can release quarterback Johnny Manziel, among others.
Feb. 16: The first day that teams can use the Franchise or Transition tag on players. The Browns had no use for the franchise tag under former general manager Ray Farmer, so it will be interesting to see if the new front office team of Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta have a different philosophy.
Related: Cleveland Browns draft profile: Jared Goff
Feb. 23-29: The NFL Scouting Combine takes place in Indianapolis, Ind. The Browns may be linked to several players during the week, most notably Cal quarterback Jared Goff and Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, but read into that speculation at your own risk.
March 1: The deadline for applying the Franchise or Transition tag to a player is at 4 p.m. If the Browns have not worked out a deal with right tackle Mitchell Schwartz by then, he could be a candidate to be tagged.
March 7-9: The Browns can start talking with the agents of players who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, but can’t sign an outside player until after 4 p.m. on March 9.
Related: Cleveland Browns: Stay or go on these eight free agents?
The Browns currently have eight unrestricted free agents: safety Tashaun Gipson, linebacker Craig Robertson, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, cornerback Johnson Bademosi, wide receiver Travis Benjamin, linebacker Tank Carder, safety Don Jones and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. They can resign any of those players at any time.
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March 9: By 4 p.m., teams must exercise their 2016 option on players. Also, free agency begins at 4 p.m. with the start of the new league year and all teams must be under the salary cap.
That should not be a problem for the Browns, who will be about $17 million under the cap (barring any new deals) for their top 51 players. Teams can also start making trades.
April 4: Because the Browns hired a new head coach after the end of the 2015 season, they may begin their offseason workout programs.
April 22: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign their offer sheets. The Browns have three restricted free agents: Scott Solomon, Austin Pasztor and Pat Devlin.
April 28-30: The NFL Draft takes place in Chicago. The Browns own the No. 2 pick in the first round and have all of their draft picks, along with compensatory picks.