2020 Offseason Questions: When Will New League Year Begin?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: When will the new league year begin?

As you are surely aware by now, there is virtually no major sporting event set to be going on in the United States for at least the next few weeks, if not more. All active major leagues have suspended operations until further notice. Even the NFL, which is in its offseason, is taking measures and assessing the next steps.

The next step could conceivably to delay the official start of the new league year, set to begin on Wednesday at 4PM. As of this writing, it is still expected to go on as planned, but things could change in a hurry.

Currently, the next major event expected is a resolution to the NFLPA’s voting on the CBA, which will conclude roughly at midnight on Saturday into Sunday. The deadline for the franchise and transition tags come soon after, then the negotiation window opens.

The start of the new league years also coincides with teams being able to agree to contracts with outside free agents. While this could be done without travel, in theory, the majority of cases involve the player traveling to the team’s facility, taking a physical, and signing a contract.

During the 2011 lockout, which lasted from March 12 through July 25, there is no free agency, so this would not exactly be unprecedented. If the league were willing to do this over a labor dispute, it should in theory be willing to do it over an international pandemic.

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