For the next week or two, the national football conversation will be dominated by Peyton Manning, Richard Sherman, the New Jersey weather and the Super Bowl.
But behind the scenes, the wheels at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills are already turning as the Ravens begin the task of crafting their 2014 roster. And once the Super Bowl confetti falls and the calendar turns to February, the urgency will pick up.
The most pressing order of business will be whether to apply the franchise tag, which must be done in the next month. If the Ravens do use the franchise tag -- and general manager Ozzie Newsome said they might -- it will most likely be applied to tight end Dennis Pitta or offensive tackle Eugene Monroe. The franchise tag can be applied as early as Feb. 17 but must be done by March 3.
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Here are other key offseason dates:
Feb. 19-25: NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
March 3: 4 p.m. deadline to apply franchise tag
March 8: Teams may begin discussions with agents of players who will become unrestricted agents as of March 11.
March 11: Happy New Year! The league new year officially begins at 4 p.m. Before 4 p.m., teams must submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents for whom they want to retain the right of first refusal/compensation. The Ravens this year have two restricted free agents: Tandon Doss and Albert McClellan. Also before 4 p.m., all teams must be under the salary cap. Free agency begins at 4 p.m.
March 23-26: NFL owners meetings. Topics could include extra-point changes, playoff expansion
April 21: Teams with returning head coaches may begin offseason program (teams with new head coaches can begin two weeks earlier)
May 2: Deadline to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets
May 8-10: 2014 NFL Draft in New York
July 15: Deadline for player who has received franchise tag to sign long-term contract; otherwise the player will play at the one-year franchise tender
Mid-July: Training camps open