New England Patriots

2024 NFL offseason: Key dates for Patriots entering pivotal stretch

The next few months could decide the course of the franchise for years to come.

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Welcome to the most important New England Patriots offseason in at least three decades.

The Patriots began that offseason with a monumental move earlier this month, parting ways with head coach Bill Belichick after 24 seasons and installing Jerod Mayo as their new head coach. They've spent the last several weeks interviewing coaching candidates to build out Mayo's staff, but their work has just begun.

New England owns the No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft after its worst season since 1992 (4-13 record) and could use that selection to select its quarterback of the future. The Patriots also are armed with roughly $66 million in cap space -- third-most in the NFL, per Over The Cap -- that they can spend in free agency to upgrade a roster with major needs at key positions like QB, wide receiver and offensive tackle.

So, what are the timelines for these crucial decisions, and when might we see the Patriots start transforming their roster? Here's every key date that Patriots fans should know between now and when football gets played again.

Feb. 3: Senior Bowl

Held annually in Mobile, Ala., the Senior Bowl features some of the best players in college football (excluding top prospects whose draft position is fairly secure, such as QBs Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels and wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.).

The most important part of the Senior Bowl might be the week of practices leading up to it, where coaches can get an up-close look at future draft picks. Wide receivers coach Troy Brown is the lone Patriots representative this year.

Feb. 26 to March 4: NFL Scouting Combine

The combine has turned into a week-long extravaganza, with 300-plus college prospects descending on Indianapolis to complete a myriad of physical and mental evaluations for NFL coaches and executives.

Belichick rarely spoke at the combine in years past, but things could be different this year with Mayo and whoever the Patriots appoint as their "official" general manager.

March 5: Franchise tag deadline

It seems unlikely the Patriots would apply the franchise tag to any of their pending free agents in 2024, but they'd have to do it before this date. Our Phil Perry noted recently that tight end Hunter Henry might be worth tagging at $12 million if New England doesn't like its options in free agency or the draft.

March 13: Start of NFL free agency

The new league year officially begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 13, meaning teams can begin signing free agents. The negotiating window begins two days earlier on March 11, and oftentimes deals get agreed to before the first day of free agency.

This is a critical period for the Patriots, who could use upgrades at quarterback, wide receiver and offensive tackle but also have no tight end under contract for 2024.

April 1: First day of offseason workouts

Teams with first-year head coaches can start offseason workouts 15 days before every other team, meaning Mayo and his new staff can get their team in the building a bit earlier as they try to establish continuity.

April 25-27: NFL Draft

This is arguably the most important event on the Patriots' offseason calendar. Not only do they have their highest draft pick since 1993, they also have three picks in the top 70 and a total of seven selections (for now).

Free agency will set the stage for New England's draft approach, but plenty of eyes will be on the Patriots in Detroit this year as they attempt to find multiple future franchise cornerstones.

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