Giants owner John Mara on changing NFL calendar: ‘I don’t think it’s a big deal’

The NFL offseason calendar might drastically change next offseason after going largely unchanged over the last two decades.

But Giants owner John Mara has a message for critics of the plan to push back the NFL Draft to May and stretch out the offseason activities over a longer period of time: Chill out.

“It changes the way we’ve been doing things for years, but I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Mara said Tuesday morning at the Hyatt Harborside Hotel in East Boston, where the NFL’s owners are meeting to vote on the sites of Super Bowl 50 and 51. “Every time you change anything, certain coaches and other football people think it’s the end of the world. But you know what? They always manage to adapt.”

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The NFL’s usual offseason schedule has the NFL Combine taking place in late February, the start of free agency and the new league year in early March and the NFL Draft in late April. Teams get their hands on the rookies in the first weekend of May, and have 2 ½ months to acclimate them to the NFL before training camp begins in late July. The period between mid-June and late-July is often very quiet as coaches and players take much-needed time off before the season begins.
But ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported yesterday that all of those events will tentatively be pushed back, starting next spring.
Under the proposed new schedule, the Combine will be held in mid-March, after the start of the new league year, and the draft would be pushed back to May 15-17 in 2014, May 7-9 in 2015 and May 5-7 in 2016.
The NFL Players Association believes that holding the Combine after the start of the league year would allow teams to focus on signing free agents before turning their attention to draft scouting. And the new schedule would allow the NFL to keep the league in the news cycle during the summer down-time.
Mara said the owners discussed the new schedule at the previous owners meetings in March, and if changes are made, they won’t be temporary.
“I think if we do it, we’re going to do it for the long haul,” he said.