The Ravens have turned the page on the 2016 season, with all focus now on improving in 2017.
Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, President Dick Cass and Head Coach John Harbaugh met at Bisciotti’s home in Jupiter, Fla. last weekend, where they drew up the road map for the 2017 season.
Here are key dates that they have on their calendars, and fans should add too:
Jan. 24-28: Senior Bowl (Mobile, Ala.)
The entire Ravens scouting department and a handful of coaches fly south to scout 110 senior prospects entering this year's draft. There are three days of practices leading up to the all-star game, but the practices are what the scouts care about most. The event is coordinated by former Ravens Director of Player Personnel Phil Savage, and it's a place where the Ravens have discovered a lot of talent over the years, including small-school defensive tackle Brandon Williams. Last year, five of the Ravens' 11 draft picks played at the Senior Bowl.
Jan. 25-29: Pro Bowl (Orlando)
Currently, four Ravens are slated to go to the NFL's annual all-star game: kicker Justin Tucker, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, linebacker C.J. Mosley and long snapper Morgan Cox. Guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) dropped out. There will be fun events leading up to the game, such as skills challenges and a dodgeball game. The game has returned to its AFC vs. NFC format, so the Ravens will all be on the same team. Future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis will serve as an AFC Pro Bowl legends captain, and will help coach the team.
Feb. 15-March 1: Window to designate franchise or transition players
The Ravens have a history of using the franchise tag, often as a way to buy more time for contract negotiations. That's what they did with kicker Justin Tucker last year. Baltimore also previously used the tag on cornerback Chris McAlister, linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and running back Ray Rice. This year, the only possible candidate would be Williams, but it's not likely.
Feb. 28-March 6: NFL Scouting Combine (Indianapolis)
Baltimore's scouting, personnel and coaching departments will go to Lucas Oil Stadium for the annual week-long showcase of the best prospects in the draft. Players will go through physical, mental and health tests, as well as interviews with different teams. Teams are allowed to interview 60 players in 15-minute intervals. Prospects, general managers and head coaches will also meet with the media. The combine is also a place where agents meet with teams to start working on deals for NFL veterans.
March 7-9: Free agent negotiating window
Deals can't be announced or signed, but teams and agents can begin hammering out prospective contracts during this window. It's sometimes the time when players can dip their toe into the free-agency pool before officially hitting the market.* *
March 9: Start of free agency, new league year
Once the clock strikes 4 p.m. on March 9, teams can officially ink and announce deals. The Ravens' top free agents are Williams, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, right tackle Rick Wagner and wide receiver Kamar Aiken. Baltimore typically hasn't been very aggressive on the first day of free agency, but made strong plays earlier in the process to grab safety Eric Weddle, tight end Benjamin Watson and wide receiver Mike Wallace last season.
March 26-29: League meetings (Phoenix)
The who's who of the NFL, including Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners and upper brass, meet somewhere fancy every year. Bisciotti typically meets with reporters to talk about a variety of subjects. Harbaugh will have breakfast with reporters. Newsome is part of the NFL's competition committee. The league will announce rule changes, as well as team's compensatory picks. The Ravens are expected to receive at least a third-round pick for the loss of Pro Bowl guard Kelechi Osemele.
April 17: NFL offseason workout program begins
Ravens will return to the Under Armour Performance Center to begin their preparation for the 2017 season. Coaches look forward to this day for a long time. It's the first chance to see the team get back together, minus a few veterans who may choose to work out in their home states. The Ravens unveiled a new program last year, and will likely make tweaks this year after changes in the coaching staff.
April 21: Deadline to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets
The Ravens will have to determine what contracts they will offer their key restricted free agents, including inside linebacker Zachary Orr, who led the team in tackles in 2016, and running back Terrance West, who led the team in rushing. The team's restricted free agents also include wide receiver Michael Campanaro, offensive linemen Ryan Jensen and James Hurst and defensive backs Marqueston Huff and Jumal Rolle.
Mid-to-late April: *Schedule release *
The Ravens already know their opponents, but they don't know the dates. They also don't know who they'll face in the preseason. It's always interesting to see how many primetime games the Ravens get, and how their travel and bye will be broken up. The Ravens have a pair of long road trips next year to London and Oakland.
April 27-29: NFL Draft (Philadelphia)
After a long history in New York City and the past couple years in Chicago, the draft is headed to Philadelphia for the first time. The Ravens currently have seven picks, but should pick up more compensatory selections. They pick at No. 16 overall in the first round. The second day of the draft is for Rounds 2 and 3, and the third day is Rounds 4 through 7.
May 5-8 or May 12-15: Rookie minicamp
This has not been scheduled yet, but typically happens either the week immediately after the draft or two weeks later. The Ravens like to get their rookies on the field quickly. It's a time for first impressions for the draft class, rookie free agents and tryout players. They'll be swimming with a lot of information thrown at them. The Ravens Organized Team Activities and mandatory minicamp must also be scheduled. Last year, they ran from late-May through mid-June.