Important dates for Raiders 2014 off-season

USA TODAY Sports

The off-season is well underway for the Raiders but then again, there is really no off-season. This train just keeps right on chugging along. No sooner is the NFL season over but the preparation for the 2014 season begins.

Here are some dates to remember over the next few months:

January 18: East-West Shrine Game

Romeo Crennel and Jerry Glanville are coaching in this game. It's not as talent-laden as the Senior Bowl but still a good place to find contributors.

January 25: Senior Bowl

The Raiders staff coached the North squad last year and got a unique perspective on some of the premiere talent on both squads.

January 26: Pro Bowl

Marcel Reece is the Raiders' lone Pro Bowler so despite the ridiculous "fantasy draft" (held on January 22 and is not important enough to get its own date in this list) style they are using to put the rosters together, you won't have to worry about him facing any Raiders players on the other squad. Either way, this new format is going to fall flat on its face... and you will still watch.

February 2: Super Bowl XLVIII

It's the Super Bowl. What are you gonna do, watch the Puppy Bowl? Oh, well, ok, that airs at the same time. Enjoy all the puppy action.

February 17-March 3: Franchise tag period

There is really only one player on whom the Raiders would consider placing the franchise tag. That would be Jared Veldheer. They are hoping it won't be necessary but even if it is, they can always sign him long term later and remove the tag.

February 19-25: NFL Combine

For you junkies out there. When Al Davis was around, this event meant a lot more to Raiders fans than most fans. A fast 40-yard dash time was a ticket to Oakland at least a round higher than anyone expected. That isn't the case anymore but it's still interesting to see how these players raise or lower their draft stock.

March 8-11: Legal tampering window

Back in the day, agents would talk with teams about their free agents before they were technically allowed to. That was called tampering. Because everyone tampered, the league changed the rules to create a 3-day window before free agency starts where tampering is, essentially, legal.

Read this:

Raiders free agent re-sign priorities: Offense

Raiders free agent re-sign priorities: Defense

March 11: Free agency opens (1:00pm PST)

This year the opening of free agency will be eagerly anticipated by Raiders fans. With the Raiders set to have over $60 million in cap space, they can be big players in free agency and might just have their sights set on at least one big name free agent out there if not several.

April 21: Offseason program begins

The off-season strength and conditioning program allows players to utilize the team's facilities for the first time to work out and rehab any injuries. They also get some of the playbook on its feet.

May 8-10: NFL Draft

Yes, it is later this year. It was long the third week of April. Yay, three more weeks of draft overanalyzing!

Be sure and mark your calendars. Or just bookmark this page. That works too.

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