Optimism abounds with a new year for all 32 NFL teams once the Super Bowl is over, as every team starts off even with 0-0 records. Technically, the Bucs are tied for first place and home field advantage throughout the playoffs at this point. Of course so are the 49ers, Jets and Raiders.
The NFL’s offseason calendar is out and here are some dates of interest for Bucs and NFL fans alike.
February 26 – March 4 – NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
PewterReport.com will once again be in attendance as all teams will have their full arsenal of front office personnel and coaches as they evaluate the college players who were invited to showcase their size and strength in front of the world. Commonly referred to as the “Underwear Olympics,” the biggest takeaways for NFL teams aren’t 40-yard dash times and bench press numbers. Rather it’s the medical reports and the one-on-one interviews that teams have with prospective players.
March 5 – Deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition players (prior to 4:00 p.m. ET)
The Bucs will have some decisions to make on this date, with a number of unrestricted free agents like left tackle Donovan Smith, receiver Adam Humphries and inside linebacker Kwon Alexander among others, and some that that are restricted free agents (three or less years of service), such as running back Peyton Barber, cornerback Javien Elliot, and safety Andrew Adams for example.
March 13 – The 2019 league year and free agency period begin at 4:00 p.m. ET
This is like Christmas Eve for most Bucs fans, the anticipation to that 4:00 p.m. deadline causes many Bucs fans to break out in cold sweats and heart palpitations at the new players Tampa Bay could target in free agency. The Bucs at this point aren’t in a favorable salary cap position (29th in the league with just over $12 million in available cap space), but can create some room before then with the release or trading of some players, or restructuring the contracts of others.
March 24-27 – Annual League Owners Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona
Here, NFL head coaches, GM’s and owners invade the hosting city for three days of rules meetings and the handling of the NFL’s business moving forward into 2019. PewterReport.com will be in Arizona to report all of the happenings of the three-day meetings.
April 1 – Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2018 regular season may begin offseason workout programs
With the hiring of Bruce Arians, this means your Buccaneers can get a somewhat early jump on things. The NFL offseason workout program are structured as followed:
Phase One – The first two weeks of the program are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only.
Phase Two – The next three weeks of the program are on-field workouts that can include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a “separate” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
Phase Three – Consists of the next four weeks of the program. Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or “OTAs”. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
Because the Bucs have a new coaching staff, they will be allowed an extra three-day voluntary mini-camp so that the new staff can begin installing plays and evaluating the talent on the roster. This will occur before the 2019 NFL Draft, giving Tampa Bay a total of 13 practices in this period.
April 15-20 – 2019 NFL regular season schedule is released
The league doesn’t have one specific day set to release the full 2019 schedule for all NFL teams, but it typically happens a week before the draft. Last year it happened on April 19, a week before the 2018 NFL Draft, which began on April 26.
April 25-27 – 2019 NFL Draft, Nashville, Tennessee
If free agency is like Christmas Eve of the offseason to Bucs fans, then draft weekend is like Christmas Day. The Bucs currently hold the No. 5 overall pick, but general manager Jason Licht is known to be a wheeler and a dealer, so hang on. Tampa Bay has traded down in the first round twice under Licht to acquire more draft picks – in 2016 and last year.
June – The Bucs will have a three-day mandatory mini-camp in the second or third week of June. This mini-camp is closed to the public and the dates will be announced at a later time.
Mid to late July – Training Camp
Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players.
The Bucs haven’t announced the dates of camp yet, and most likely won’t until the summer.
August 1 – Hall of Fame Game, Canton, Ohio
The two teams haven’t been announced yet, but it appears the Chiefs and Broncos are in strong contention to kick off preseason football in 2019.
August 31 – Clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List (prior to 4:00 p.m. ET)
The toughest day of the year for most coaches and general managers as they have to pare the roster down from 90 to 53 players and deliver the bad news to guys they have grown close to and have to tell some that their lifelong dream is ending.
September 5, 8-9 – Regular Season Week 1
Congratulations Bucs fans, you made it. The 2019 season kicks off and the high hopes and optimism for another Tampa Bay Buccaneers season begins.
–Some of this report is courtesy of the Buccaneers and the NFL