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Here's When NFL Offseason Trades Can Be Made Official

Matthew Stafford looks onto the field during a game.

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 29: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions watches the pregame activities prior to the start of the game against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field on December 29, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Green Bay defeated Detroit 23-20. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

With just three more games remaining, the 2020 football season is quickly drawing to a close. Already, eyes are beginning to turn toward what's shaping up to be an active NFL offseason.

Although trade rumors have already been swirling around, it's important to remember that deals won't be official until the start of the new league year. That time still sits a few months away, on March 17 at 4 p.m. ET. At that point, both teams can notify the league office of the trade.

Prior to March 17, all reported deals will remain unofficial. Teams are welcome to strike these types of deal up until that date, but nothing will be set in stone. If one party chooses to back out before the trade is reported to the league, then the move won't go through, even if it's been reported elsewhere.

This timeline is significant for this upcoming NFL offseason because of some of the trade rumors swirling around two big-name quarterbacks. Both Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson could be on the move, which could dramatically shift the balance of the league.

Stafford, the 32-year-old Lions veteran, reportedly requested a trade earlier this week. Detroit willingly granted him that opportunity and will now look to strike a deal with the highest bidder. Even with over a decade of experience, Stafford still looks sharp and should be able to contribute to any team hoping to make the playoffs.

Watson remains the biggest potential prize of the offseason. The 25-year-old Texans quarterback has the potential to be the face of a franchise for the next decade. Despite his heroic efforts, Houston has struggled mightily over the last few season, forcing Watson's hand. Although he hasn't demanded a trade just yet, his feelings toward the organization seem mostly negative, making reconciliation seem impossible.

News may come out about trades involving either of these top tier quarterbacks, or other star players, over the next few months. However, fans will have to wait until March 17 at 4 p.m. for any deal to become official.