Schedule release coming within the next month, most likely

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The announcement of the next season’s schedule has become in recent years one of the major NFL offseason tent pole events. With free agency quickly dying down, it becomes be the next big thing to which to look forward to. Which.

Based on the trend that has developed in recent years, the league most likely will strip the sheet off the slate of games on or about Tuesday, April 17, nine days before the draft commences.

The league rarely announces the date and time for the schedule release more than a week or two in advance, primarily because it takes time for the millions of potential permutations to fit into a 256-game grid of games to be played on 17 Sundays, 16 Mondays, most Thursdays, and a couple of Saturdays.

And as to the reports that inevitably will emerge between now and the middle of April (such as the report from Howard Eskin that the Eagles will start the season by hosting the Vikings), any tentative configurations are subject to change based on whether and to what extent the rest of the calendar fits with the plan for the game that will start the season.

The Eagles’ home schedule has plenty of intriguing options, from an NFC Championship rematch with the Vikings to an NFC division-round rematch with the Falcons to a visit from the Panthers, another 2017 playoff team, to an NFC East rival like the Cowboys. And while it’s entirely possible that the Vikings have been tabbed for now as the opening-night opponent, nothing on the salary is done until it’s done.