Key dates ahead for Pats, NFL

A snapshot look at key dates ahead for the Patriots and the NFL's other 31 teams:

May 16 -- Except for a three-day minicamp held within 15 days of the draft, this is the first day that players eligible for 2012 draft can participate in minicamp or meetings. If final examinations at a player's school conclude after this date, the player is prohibited from participating in any activities until after the player's final day of examinations.

May 21-23 -- NFL spring meeting (Atlanta)

May 21-22 -- Organized team activity (no media access)

May 24 -- Organized team activity (media access)

May 29-31 -- Organized team activity (media access on 31st)

June 4-5 -- Organized team activity (no media access)

June 7-8 -- Organized team activity (media access on 7th)

June 12-14 -- Mandatory team minicamp

June 24-30 -- NFL rookie symposium (Aurora, Ohio)

Mid-July -- Supplemental draft (if necessary)

July 16 -- Deadline for any club that designated a franchise player to sign such player to a multi-year contract or extension (4 p.m. ET). If an extension is not reached by this date, the contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular-season game.

Late July -- Training camp begins.

August 7 -- Deadline for players under contract to report to their clubs to earn an accrued season for free agency.

August 7 -- If a drafted rookie has not signed with his club by this date, he cannot be traded to any other club in 2012, and may sign a player contract only with the drafting club until the day of the NFL draft in the 2013 league year.

August 9 -- Saints at Patriots (7:30 p.m. ET)

August 20 -- Eagles at Patriots (8 p.m. ET)

August 24 -- Patriots at Buccaneers (7:30 p.m. ET)

August 27 -- Roster cutdown from 90 to 75 (4 p.m. ET)

August 29 -- Patriots at Giants (7:30 p.m. ET)

August 31 – Roster cutdown from 75 to 53 (9 p.m. ET)