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What does "New League Year" mean? | Daily Brew

There may not be a more exciting weekend/beginning of the next week than the start of the new NFL league year. I get questions about it, certain things in particular. So, let's see how many I can address here.

Can the Texans sign a player before the start of the new league year?

Yes - they can, but it has to be players that fall into three categories.

The first group is Texans soon-to-be unrestricted free agents. That list includes players like Justin Reid, Desmond King, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Maliek Collins and Christian Kirksey, to name a few. If the Texans and the players noted above, and more, would like to get married again, then they can sign a contract at any time between now and forever. Signing a team's own soon-to-be free agents isn't bound by the new league year timeline. Do it in five minutes. Do it in five months. One key is the tampering period which we'll get to in a bit.

The second group consists of Texans restricted free agents, but I don't believe there are any Texans that fall into this category at this point. Davion Davis and Jimmy Morrissey did fall into that category but were re-signed earlier this month.

The third group is made up of players that have been cut/waived since the end of the 2021 season. The Packers waived DL Kingsley Keke at the end of the season and the Texans claimed him immediately back in January. Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner, although not seemingly destined for Houston, can sign a contract with any team, at any time. Likewise, the Texans released Terrance Mitchell earlier this week and he can sign anywhere immediately.

What is the "tampering period"?

So, this one comes with a bit of a history lesson. Back in the early 2010s, DT Albert Haynesworth signed a massive contract with the Washington Commanders at 12:01 am, just one minute into the new league year. Obviously, it wasn't a one minute negotiation so that transaction and others signaled to the league that change was necessary. Essentially, it needed a two to three day tampering period where unrestricted free agents could legally discuss potential contracts with new teams prior to the start of the new league year. So, starting at 11 am CST on Monday, all 32 teams can extend contract offers and/or agree to a deal with players who will become unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their 2021 player contracts at 3 PM March 16th - the start of the new league year. As such, a ton of teams have player deals in place by that point and their broadcast/digital teams (like ours) shoot out all kinds of social media at 3:01 PM on Wednesday to announce signings and the sort.

When can a team make a trade?

Two teams can agree to a trade any time between now and forever, but it won't become official, per the league, until the start of the new league year (Wednesday March 16th, 3 PM CST). So, if the Texans made a trade for a player, or traded a player, in the next 120 hours, the league won't put its official stamp on it until the start of the new league year. So, Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Khalil Mack aren't OFFICIALLY members of the Broncos, Commanders and Chargers, respectively, just yet.

When can returning/new players return to their building for workouts?

Current players can already and there's been a HUGE contingent of Texans here for weight room workouts with Mike Eubanks and his staff or rehabbing injuries. But, BUT, the official offseason workout program won't start for the Texans until April 4th. That's two weeks earlier than many teams because the Texans hired Lovie Smith, a new head coach, which gives them a two-week head start on the OFFICIAL offseason program.

Those are the key questions, so hopefully I answered those so that you can enjoy the heck out of the next five days. It's going to be WILD, to say the least.

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