Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. It's also the unofficial moment we start getting really antsy for football to arrive.
We are officially 100 days from the Wednesday night opener between the Giants and Cowboys. A hundred days sounds rather daunting at this point. Free agency is essentially over. The excitement from the NFL Draft has faded. It's time for the dog days of the NFL calendar. So what's next?
OTAs for all 32 teams wrap up by June 15
The new collective bargaining agreement mandated fewer Organized Team Activities (OTAs), but they are now more tightly packed together. That leads to a busy couple of weeks coming up. 20 teams wrap up the practice sessions by June 8. The rest of the teams are done by June 15, with the Titans, Falcons, Bills, and Browns going to the last allowable day.
Minicamps start June 5, end June 21
Each team gets one mandatory three day minicamp where they can practice actual football skills like tackling. Fun. The Browns and Saints start the earliest with sessions June 5 to 7. Most of the league will conduct their minicamps June 12 to 14 before breaking for the summer. Six teams hold their minicamps on the last possible days: June 19 to 21.
And then the real NFL dog days start
Any news that happens from late June until mid-July is going to be manufactured or off-field news that NFL teams don't want to hear. There is no real offseason in the NFL, but this period comes closest. It's where NFL coaches re-introduce themselves to family members. Players, front office members, and media all get their relaxation time in when they can.
This is when the Around the League writers make their money. We will pull a few hamstrings stretching to find 35 good stories a day.
July 24: Training camp starts
When it comes to sheer news volume and great stories, I've always considered the start of training camp the start of my regular season as a writer and fan. That's only 56 days away.
(Which means I need to get all the quality time with the family in the next two months while I can).