INDIANAPOLIS — "Failing to plan is planning to fail."
Growing up hearing that phrase, it always seemed to put things into perspective.
And in what could be a critical year in the development of the Indianapolis Colts franchise, there has certainly been all sorts of planning already going on at the team's West 56th Street facility.
It's actually one of the more quirky, hypocritical aspects about the National Football League; a "one-day-at-a-time" approach is always stressed across the board, yet those who are able to effectively plan ahead the best oftentimes come out on top.
This week, the NFL gave the Colts and the rest of its teams more clarity about the immediate future, as it released its annual "important dates for the upcoming league year" memo. It's the perfect time, as this six-week period is about the only one the entire year that doesn't have much attached to it, such as the combine, free agency and the draft in the first few months of the year, and then the teams' offseason workout programs that follow.
You can see the entire list of 2017-18 NFL important dates by [clicking here](https://nflcommunications.com/Documents/2017 Offseason/06 20 17 - Important Dates.pdf), but we've selected a few that might be considered relevant to the Colts:
• Late June: Rookie Experience Transition Program to be held at individual clubs. Attendance is mandatory for all 2017 rookies. This is a "rookie onboarding platform" hosted by each team that is "designed to provide the resources for a successful transition to the NFL." This was started last year and took the place of the Rookie Symposium, which was only available to drafted rookies. At this program, Colts rookies can expect to learn about social responsibility, mental health, character, values and player engagement resources — and much more. Expect David Thornton, Director of Player Engagement, to once again play a huge role in this for Indy.
• July 29: The Colts report to training camp at their team facility. Teams' report date can be no more than 15 days prior to their first preseason game, and this date is exactly 15 days from the Colts' 2017 preseason opener against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Aug. 13, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
• Sept. 2: Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List. Simultaneously with the cut-down to 53, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List. Previously, there was a cutdown to 75 prior to the final cut to 53, but that was eliminated this season. This gives the Colts and every other team an extended period with 90-player preseason/training camp rosters, which could translate to better overall competition and fewer injuries.
• Sept. 3: Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12:00 noon, New York time. Also, upon receipt of the Personnel Notice at approximately 1:00 p.m., New York time, clubs may establish a Practice Squad of 10 players (the four designated clubs (NFC South) may sign one player to an International Practice Player Contract.) No club, including the player's prior club, will be permitted to sign a player to a Practice Player Contract until all clubs have received simultaneous notification via the above Personnel Notice that such player's prior NFL Player Contract has been terminated via the waiver system.
• Sept 10: The Colts open up the 2017 regular season on the road against the Los Angeles Rams.
• Mid-October: Beginning on the sixth calendar day prior to a club's seventh regular season game (including any bye week) clubs are permitted to begin practicing players on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform and Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness for a period not to exceed 21 days. Players may be activated during the 21-day practice period, or prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the day after the conclusion of the 21-day period, provided that no player may be activated to participate in a Week 6 game. At any time after six weeks have elapsed since a player was placed on Reserve/Injured or Reserve/Non-Football Injury/Illness, each club is permitted to designate two players for return from either list to the club's 53-player Active/Inactive List. A player who is "Designated For Return" must have suffered a major football-related injury or non-football-related injury or illness after reporting to training camp and must have be en placed on the applicable Reserve List after 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the day after the final roster reduction. A player whom the club wishes to designate for return is permitted to return to practice for a period not to exceed 21 days. The club is required to notify the League office that the player has been "Designated For Return" on the first day the player begins to practice. The player cannot be returned to the Active/Inactive List until eight weeks have elapsed since the date he was placed on Reserve.
• Oct. 31: All trading ends for 2017 at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
• Jan. 6-7, 2018: Wild Card Playoff Games.
• Jan. 13-14: Divisional Playoff Games.
• Jan. 21: AFC and NFL Championship Games.
• Jan. 28: NFL Pro Bowl, Camping World Stadium; Orlando, Fla.
• Feb. 4: Super Bowl LII, U.S. Bank Stadium; Minneapolis.
• Feb 20: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
• Feb. 27-March 5: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium; Indianapolis.
• March 6: Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
• March 12-14: During the period beginning at 12:00 noon, New York time, on March 12 and ending at 3:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 14, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2017 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 14. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 14. During the above two-day negotiating period, no direct contact is permitted between a prospective Unrestricted Free Agent and any employee or representative of a club, other than the player's current club.
• March 14: The 2018 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
• April 16: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs. Clubs with a new head coach after the end of the 2017 regular season may begin offseason workout program April 2.
• April 26-28: 2018 NFL Draft (location TBD)
• May 2: Deadline for Clubs to exercise Fifth-Year Option for players selected in the first round of the 2015 Draft.
• May 4-7 or May 11-14: Clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.