Agent’s Take: 2022 NFL offseason dates to know for free agency, contract options, franchise tags and more


The Rams beat the Bengals, 23-20, in Super Bowl LVI on a 15-play, 79-yard drive resulting in touchdown with just 1:25 left to play. Financial decisions begin to take center stage with all NFL teams entering the offseason now that the 2021 season has concluded. Decisions made in the early part of the offseason can have long lasting ramifications for teams.

Here’s a look at key offseason dates running through the first week of the 2022 league year, which begins on March 16. Some dates have league-wide importance. Other dates can potentially affect specific player contracts and the salary cap of individual teams because they are crucial to the timing of contract restructures, pay cuts and players being released. Notable players have been highlighted on the appropriate date with how the event is specified in their respective contracts. Less heralded players are only mentioned on dates without a lot of activity.

February 14 

(Day 1 after 2021 League Year Super Bowl)

NFL: The waiver system for 2022 began. Players with fewer than four years of service for benefit purposes are subject to waivers, and their contracts can be claimed by other teams. Players with four or more years of service become free agents when released and can be immediately signed.

Vikings: Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson’s 2022 and 2023 contract years voided. Richardson becomes an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2022 league year. The Vikings have a $1,283,334 million 2022 cap charge (i.e.; dead money) from the bonus proration relating to these contract years.

February 15

(Day 2 after 2021 League Year Super Bowl)

49ers: Defensive end Dee Ford’s $4.6 million April 1, 2022 roster bonus became fully guaranteed. Ford’s roster bonus was guaranteed for injury at signing.

February 16

(Day 3 after 2021 League Year Super Bowl)

Giants: Offensive tackle Nate Solder’s 2022 contract year voided. Solder becomes an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2022 league year. The Giants have a $4 million 2022 cap charge (i.e.; dead money) from the bonus proration relating to this contract year.

February 17

(Day 4 of waiver period/Day 4 after 2021 League Year Super Bowl)

Seahawks: The salaries of several Seahawks are guaranteed. Safety Jamal Adams, offensive guard Gabe Jackson and wide Tyler Lockett’s $14.4 million, $6 million and $16 million 2022 base salaries, which were guaranteed for injury at signing, become fully guaranteed. $3.08 million of defensive tackle Poona Ford’s $7.9 million 2022 base salary and $1 million of punter Michael Dickson’s $3,083,059 2022 base salary are fully guaranteed. These amounts were guaranteed for injury at signing. Adams and Lockett’s 2022 base salaries will reduce to fully guaranteed $2 million and $3 million, respectively, if the Seahawks commit to making the necessary $12.44 million and $13 million payments to exercise the options for their 2025 contract years. This can be done as early as the first day of the 2022 league year on March 16 but no later than the fifth day (March 20).

NFL: The contracts of 14 different players void: Seahawks offensive tackle Duane Brown, Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs, Steelers tight end Eric Ebron, Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett, Bears wide receiver Jakeem Grant, Chiefs defensive end Melvin Ingram, Browns defensive lineman Malik Jackson, Seahawks center Ethan Pocic, Bengals offensive tackle Riley Reiff, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Raiders running back Jalen Richard, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, 49ers offensive guard Laken Tomlinson and Browns linebacker Anthony Walker. Specifically, the Steelers will have $10.34 million and $5.6 million salary cap charges from Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster’s 2022 through 2025 contract years voiding.

Browns: This is the first day for the Browns to exercise an option for fullback Andy Janovich’s 2022 contract year worth $1.6 million. The deadline to exercise the option is one day prior to the start of the 2022 league year, which is March 15.

February 21

(23 days prior to start of 2022 League Year)

NFL: The contracts of 27 different players void, including Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Rams will have a $400,000 2022 cap charge from the bonus proration in Beckham’s voiding 2022 through 2025 contract years. The Buccaneers will have $5 million of 2022 dead money relating to the bonus proration in Gronkowski’s 2022 through 2025 contract years. All 27 players will be unrestricted free agents at the start of the 2022 league year.

February 22

(22 days prior to start of 2022 League Year)

NFL: The 15-day period where teams can designate franchise or transition players begins. Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, Bengals safety Jessie Bates and Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson are prime franchise tag candidates.

March 1-7

NFL: The NFL Scouting Combine takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana. Meetings between agents of impending free agents and teams routinely occur at the Combine, although these types of discussions are prohibited by NFL rules. Teams are rarely penalized for tampering with players from other teams when those players are scheduled to become free agents. 

March 7

(10 days prior to start of 2022 League Year)

Eagles: Defensive end Derek Barnett’s 2022 through 2025 contract years void. He becomes an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2022 league year. The Eagles will have a $7,248,800 cap charge from Barnett’s 2022 through 2025 bonus proration after voiding.

March 8 

(8 days prior to start of 2022 League Year)

NFL: The period for designating franchise or transition players ends at 4 p.m. ET. 

March 11

(5 days prior to start of 2022 League Year) 

Cardinals: Wide receiver A.J. Green’s 2022 and 2023 contract years void. He becomes an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2022 league year. The Cardinals will have a $2.5 million cap charge relating to the 2022 and 2023 bonus proration with voiding.

March 14-16

NFL: NFL teams are allowed to negotiate with the agents of prospective unrestricted free agents during a period beginning March 14 at 12 p.m. ET and ending at 3:59:59 p.m. ET on March 16. Prospective UFAs who don’t have an agent can negotiate with front office executives of teams. Members of a team’s coaching are prohibited from contacting self-represented UFAs. In the two-day window, prospective UFAs can’t visit teams or have direct contact with team employees, except those from their current clubs unless operating without an agent. A player’s ability to re-sign with his current club isn’t affected by the rule. The negotiating period does not apply to unsigned players receiving restricted free agent, franchise or transition tenders.

March 16 

(End of 2021 League Year) 

NFL: 2021 league year ends at 3:59:59 p.m. ET.

Vikings: Linebacker Anthony Barr’s 2022 and 2023 contract years void. Barr becomes an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2022 league year. The Vikings will have $10.8 million in 2022 dead money from the bonus proration relating to these contract years.

Patriots: Safety Devin McCourty’s 2022 through 2024 contract years void. McCourty is an unrestricted free agent at the start on the 2022 league year. The Patriots will have $6.45 million in 2022 dead money from the bonus proration relating to these contract years.

Saints: Two players have contract years void. Offensive tackle Terron Armstead’s 2022 through 2024 contract years void. There will be a $12,981,324 cap charge for the Saints because of the bonus proration from these contract years. Saints quarterback Jameis Winston’s 2022 and 2023 contract years void. The Saints will have a $3 million cap charge associated with Winston’s 2022 and 2023 signing bonus proration. The players will be unrestricted free agents when the 2022 league year starts.

Browns: Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s 2022 through 2025 contract years void. Clowney becomes an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2022 league year. The Browns will have $3.6 million in 2022 dead money from the bonus proration relating to these contract years.

March 16

(Day 1 of 2022 League Year)

NFL: The top 51 begins. Only the top 51 salaries (i.e.; cap numbers), including unsigned franchise, transition and restricted free agent tenders, on a team count against the salary cap during the offseason. All teams must be under the salary cap prior to 4:00 p.m. ET.

NFL: The 2022 league year and free agency begin at 4:00 p.m. ET.

NFL: The trading period begins at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Bills: This is the first day of a five-day period for the Bills to exercise an option for quarterback Josh Allen’s 2028 contract year worth $41,554,595. Paying the required $42.4 million for Allen’s 2028 contract year will drop his fully guaranteed $46.5 million 2022 base salary to a fully guaranteed $4.1 million.

Dolphins: $6.775 million of Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard’s $12.975 million 2022 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The remaining $6.2 million is secure. The entire amount was guaranteed for injury at signing.

Giants: Kenny Golladay has an injury guaranteed $4.5 million third day of the 2022 league year roster bonus that becomes completely secure. $2 million of teammate James Bradberry’s $13.4 million 2022 base salary becomes fully guaranteed. The cornerback’s $2 million was guaranteed for injury at signing.

Eagles: This is the first day the Eagles can pick up options in the contracts of several Eagles, including tight end Dallas Goedert and offensive tackle Jordan Mailata. With Goedert, a $3.215 million payment is required for a dummy 2026 contract year. His 2022 base salary reduces from a fully guaranteed $4.25 million to a fully guaranteed $1.035 million with the option being exercised. In Mailata’s case, a $7.035 million payment is required for a dummy 2026 contract year. His 2022 base salary reduces from a fully guaranteed $8 million to a fully guaranteed $965,000 with the option being exercised. Additionally, Eagles center Jason Kelce’s fully guaranteed $1.5 million roster bonus is due.

March 17 

(Day 2 of 2022 League Year)

Rams: Defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s $5 million roster bonus is due.

Lions: Quarterback Jared Goff’s fully guaranteed $15.5 million roster bonus is due. $10 million of Goff’s $10.65 million 2022 base salary was guaranteed for injury at signing. The $10 million is completely secure.

Chargers: Center Corey Linsley’s $9 million 2022 base salary is fully guaranteed. It was guaranteed for injury when he signed his deal.

Commanders: The full guarantee of Commanders offensive tackle Charles Leno’s injury guaranteed $4 million fifth day of the 2022 league year roster bonus vests. On the following day, Leno’s $1.25 million 2022 base salary, which was guaranteed for injury at signing, becomes fully guaranteed.

March 18

(Day 3 of 2022 League Year)

Chiefs: Multiple Chiefs have salary guarantees activated. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ $2.5 million 2024 base salary, $550,000 2024 workout bonus and $34.9 million third day of the 2024 league year roster bonus are fully guaranteed. Defensive tackle Chris Jones’ $3.75 million 2022 base salary and $500,000 2022 workout bonus are fully guaranteed. Offensive tackle Joe Thuney’s $15 million 2023 base salary is fully guaranteed. $2 million of tight end Travis Kelce’s $6.5 million 2022 base salary is fully guaranteed. These amounts were guaranteed for injury at signing. Also, Mahomes’ $27.4 million fully guaranteed 2022 roster bonus is due. 

Colts: $15 million of Colts quarterback Carson Wentz’s $22 million 2022 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The remaining $7 million becomes completely secure. There isn’t an offset with the $15 million. Wentz’s injury guaranteed $5 million roster bonus is due.

Falcons: Quarterback Matt Ryan’s $7.5 million bonus becomes a payment obligation. 

Browns: Three key Browns have guarantees vest. Offensive guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller’s respective $11 million and $12.5 million 2023 base salaries are fully guaranteed. $2,866,941 of running back Nick Chubb’s $10.85 million 2023 base salary is fully guaranteed. These amounts were guaranteed for injury at signing.

Bears: Edge rusher Khalil Mack’s $5.5 million roster bonus is due. $5 million of teammate Eddie Jackson’s $11 million 2022 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The safety’s other $6 million becomes fully guaranteed. The entire $11 million was guaranteed for injury at signing.

Packers: Offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, defensive tackle Kenny Clark, running back Aaron Jones and linebacker Preston Smith are due $9.5 million, $6.4 million, $3.75 million and $3 million roster bonuses.

Eagles: The Eagles have several contract guarantees vest. $2 million of cornerback Darius Slay’s $6 million 2022 base salary is already fully guaranteed. Another $2 million becomes fully guaranteed. Tight end Dallas Goedert, offensive tackle Jordan Mailata and defensive end Josh Sweat’s respective $14 million, $14.5 million and $9 million 2023 base salaries are fully guaranteed. $1.55 million of cornerback Avonte Maddox’s $6.35 million 2023 base salary is fully guaranteed. $2.25 million of kicker Jake Elliott’s 2022 base salary is fully guaranteed. There were corresponding injury guarantees for the fully guaranteed amounts when the players signed their contracts, except for Maddox. In his case, $5.2 million was guaranteed for injury at signing.

Dolphins: $6 million of Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones’ $14.375 million 2022 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The remaining $8.375 million becomes secure. The $14.375 million was guaranteed for injury at signing.

Saints: Key players have salary guarantees vest. Wide receiver Michael Thomas’ $15.35 million 2022 base salary is fully guaranteed. $2.5 million of cornerback Marshon Lattimore’s $14.5 million 2023 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The remaining $12 million becomes fully guaranteed. $3.3 million of offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk’s $14 million 2023 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The remaining $10.7 million is fully guaranteed. Running back Alvin Kamara’s $1 million fifth day of the 2023 league year roster bonus is fully guaranteed. Quarterback Taysom Hill’s $9.9 million 2023 base salary is fully guaranteed. These amounts were guaranteed for injury at signing.

Steelers: Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward has a $4.5 million roster bonus payable.

Buccaneers: Defensive tackle Vita Vea’s injury guaranteed $12.5 million 2023 base salary becomes completely secure.

Vikings: The base salaries of three Vikings become secure. Running back Dalvin Cook’s $8.3 million 2022 base salary, safety Harrison Smith’s $2.95 million 2022 base salary and defensive tackle Michael Pierce’s $7.9 million 2022 base salary are fully guaranteed. All of the amounts were guaranteed for injury when these contracts were signed. Additionally, Smith’s injury guaranteed $8 million roster bonus is due.

Giants: $10 million of Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay’s injury guaranteed $13 million 2022 base salary was fully guaranteed at signing. The last $3 million becomes fully guaranteed. $4.5 million of his $13.25 million base salary is also completely secure. The $4.5 million was guaranteed for injury at signing. Golladay’s $4.5 million roster bonus, which became fully guaranteed on the first day of the 2022 league year, is due.

Raiders: The Raiders have some contract guarantees vest. Offensive tackle Kolton Miller’s $3.275 million 2022 base salary and $14.225 million 2023 base salaries are secure. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue’s $5 million 2022 base salary is secure. Running back Kenyan Drake’s $2.5 million 2022 base salary is secure. Center Andre Jones’ $1.9 million 2022 base salary is secure. Kicker Daniel Carlson’s $3,434,445 2022 base salary is secure. There were corresponding injury guarantees when the players signed their contracts. Miller, Ngakoue, Drake and Jones also have fully guaranteed $13.5 million, $8 million, $5.5 million and $1.5 million roster bonuses payable.

Commanders: The guarantees of several Commanders players are triggered. Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, cornerback William Jackson and offensive tackle Charles Leno’s $2 million, $5 million and $1.25 million 2022 base salaries are fully guaranteed. $5.35 million of center Chase Roullier’s $7.17 million 2022 base is fully guaranteed. $2.215 million of tight end Logan Thomas’ $3.99 million 2022 base salary is fully guaranteed. The amounts becoming fully guaranteed were guaranteed for injury at signing. Jackson has a fully guaranteed $5 million roster bonus due and wide receiver Curtis Samuel’s injury guaranteed $1.5 million roster bonus is payable.

March 19 

(Day 4 of 2022 League Year)

Browns: This is the first day of a 12-day window for the Browns to pick up options for safety John Johnson’s voiding 2026 contract year and defensive end Myles Garrett’s 2026 contract year worth $22.965 million. A $6.75 million payment is required for Johnson’s option year. Johnson’s $10.75 million injury guaranteed 2022 base salary, of which $6.75 million was fully guaranteed at signing, becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the league year. The 2022 base salary reduces to a fully guaranteed $4 million if the option year is picked up. The Browns must pay Garrett $17.965 million for his fully guaranteed $19 million million 2022 base salary to decrease to a fully guaranteed $1.035 million.

Bills: $4.975 million of Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White’s $9.95 million 2022 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The other half is fully guaranteed. The entire amount was guaranteed for injury at signing. $8.35 million of White’s $8.6 million 2023 base salary was guaranteed for injury at signing. $6.35 million of the $8.35 million is completely secure.

Lions: A seven-day window for the Lions to pick up an option for center Frank Ragnow’s 2026 contact year worth $12.75 million opens. An $18 million payment is necessary for the option year. Ragnow’s injury guaranteed $20,751,529 2022 base salary, of which $18,290,899 was fully guaranteed, reduces to a fully guaranteed $2,751,529 when the option is exercised. The remaining $2,460,640 of Ragnow’s 2022 base salary is fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2022 league year.

March 20

(Day 5 of 2022 League Year)

Cowboys: Quarterback Dak Prescott’s $31 million 2023 base salary, as well as wide receiver Amari Cooper’s $20 million 2022 base salary, are completely secure. $6,483,250 of offensive tackle La’el Collins $10 million 2022 base salary is completely secure. This money for the three players was guaranteed for injury at signing.

Rams: Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s $10 million roster bonus is due while the remaining $7 million of wide receiver Cooper Kupp’s $14.5 million salary guarantee vests. The $14.5 million was guaranteed for injury at signing and $7.5 million was previously fully guaranteed. Kupp’s entire 2022 base salary is $14.875 million.

Texans: Quarterback Deshaun Watson’s $20 million 2023 base salary and $17.5 million fifth day of the 2023 league year roster bonus are fully guaranteed. Both were guaranteed for injury when Watson signed his deal in 2020.

Ravens: This is the deadline for the Ravens to exercise an option on tight end Mark Andrews’ 2025 contract year worth $11 million. A $15.5 million payment is required to reduce his 2022 salary from a fully guaranteed $19 million to a fully guaranteed $3.5 million. Andrews’ $7.5 million 2023 base salary, which was guaranteed for injury at signing, is fully guaranteed. $5 million of cornerback Marlon Humphrey’s injury guaranteed $10 million 2022 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The remaining $5 million becomes fully guaranteed. $7.35 million of Humphrey’s injury guaranteed $10.5 million 2023 base salary is also fully guaranteed. Additionally, $6.75 million of offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley’s $12.75 million 2023 base salary, which was fully guaranteed at signing, is completely secure.

Seahawks: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s $5 million roster bonus is payable.

Vikings: Defensive end Danielle Hunter’s $18 million roster bonus is due.

Cardinals: A couple of key Cardinals have salary guaranteed. $2 million of safety Budda Baker’s injury guaranteed $11 million 2022 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The remaining $9 million becomes fully guaranteed. $6.25 million of defensive lineman J.J. Watt’s $11.25 million 2022 base salary was guaranteed for injury at signing. $3.25 million of this $6.25 million was fully guaranteed at signing. The remaining $3 million is completely secure. Watt’s fully guaranteed $2.25 million roster bonus is payable. Also, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ $10.65 million roster bonus is due.

Colts: The guarantees for several prominent Colts are triggered. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner’s $11 million 2022 base salary that’s guaranteed for injury is fully guaranteed. $2.7 million of linebacker Darius Leonard’s injury guaranteed $15.75 million 2023 base salary is already fully guaranteed. Another $9.3 million becomes fully guaranteed. $6 million of offensive tackle Braden Smith’s injury guaranteed $16 million 2023 base salary is already fully guaranteed. An additional $4 million becomes fully guaranteed. $5,587,176 of defensive tackle Grover Stewart’s $7.035 million 2022 base salary is fully guaranteed. The $5,587,176 was guaranteed for injury at signing. Buckner and Smith and Stewart’s fully guaranteed $5 million $3 million and $2 million fifth day of 2022 league year roster bonuses are fully guaranteed.

Chargers: A small group of Chargers have salaries fully guaranteed. Defensive end Joey Bosa’s $24 million 2023 base salary, which is guaranteed for injury, becomes completely secure. $1.5 million of wide receiver Keenan Allen’s $15.5 million 2023 base salary is fully guaranteed. $1.25 million of running back Austin Ekeler’s $5.5 million 2022 base salary is fully guaranteed. The $1.25 million and $1.5 million were guaranteed for injury at signing. $4 million of offensive guard Matt Feiler’s $5.5 million 2022 base salary, which is guaranteed for injury, was fully guaranteed at signing. The rest is completely secure.

Saints: The fully guaranteed roster bonuses of Saints quartet, cornerback Marshon Lattimore ($15 million), offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk ($8,741,608), running back Alvin Kamara ($6 million) and quarterback Taysom Hill ($9.9 million) are due.

Bengals: Defensive end Trey Hendrickson’s $6 million roster bonus is due.

Buccaneers: A couple of Buccaneers have salaries guaranteed. $7.5 million of linebacker Lavonte David’s $12.5 million 2022 base salary was guaranteed for injury at signing. $5 million of the $7.5 million is already fully guaranteed. The remaining $2.5 million becomes fully guaranteed. $14.5 million of offensive tackle Donovan Smith’s injury guaranteed $15.75 million 2022 base salary was fully guaranteed at signing. The other $1.25 million is fully guaranteed. $1.25 million of kicker Ryan Succop’s $3.25 million 2022 base salary is guaranteed for injury and becomes fully guaranteed.

Broncos: Three core Broncos players have guarantees vest. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton’s $14.4 million 2023 base salary is fully guaranteed. $2.9 million of safety Justin Simmons’ $14.4 million 2023 base salary is fully guaranteed. $5.5 million of wide receiver Tim Patrick’s $8 million 2023 base salary is fully guaranteed. The amounts becoming fully guaranteed were guaranteed for injury when these deals were signed. Also, Sutton and Patrick’s fully guaranteed $10.5 million and $6.965 million roster bonuses are due.

Falcons: Linebacker Deion Jones’ fully guaranteed $4 million roster bonus is payable.

Titans: Two Titans defensive starters have salary guaranteed. Linebacker Zach Cunningham’s $10 million 2022 base salary, which is guaranteed for injury, becomes fully guaranteed. $1.25 million of linebacker Bud Dupree’s $17 million 2023 base salary is fully guaranteed. The $1.25 million was guaranteed for injury at signing.

March 21

(Day 6 of 2022 League Year)

49ers: This is the last day for the 49ers to exercise an option for linebacker Fred Warner’s 2026 contract year worth $18.25 million. A $12.68 million payment is necessary to pick up the option. If the option year is declined, Warner’s 2022 base salary is $15.244 million, of which $14.26 million is already fully guaranteed, instead of $2.564 million.



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