May 16th Rule
The National Football League and the American Football Coaches Association have reached an agreement to change the May 16th rule, effective with the 2018 NFL Draft. The May 16th rule addresses when a rookie player (a player who was eligible for the most recently completed NFL Draft) is permitted to attend a NFL Rookie Football Development Program. This agreement is an example of the positive relationship between the NFL and the AFCA.
The new rule permits all rookie players, whether enrolled in school or not, to begin their NFL careers on a mutually agreed upon date on or about May 16. Permitting all players to begin football activities with their NFL clubs at the same time provides an equitable competitive environment to learn from their coaches and showcase their on-field skills.
Additionally, players attending a Rookie Football Development Program, who are enrolled in school, and whose final examinations have not concluded, will be provided the following opportunities to continue their education.
A rookie player who is enrolled only in online courses must be allotted sufficient time to continue and complete his course requirements (i.e., study, take exams, including any online final exams, and complete any required assignments).
A rookie player who is enrolled in non-online classes must be allotted sufficient time to continue and complete course requirements (i.e., study, take exams, and complete any required assignments) and must be allowed to return to campus at least 36 hours prior to his first scheduled final examination. The player cannot return to the club until the completion of his final examinations.
A rookie player who participated in the most recently completed college football season as a graduate student, or who graduates or completes his coursework early, may participate fully in any activities at a club’s facilities beginning May 16.
The player’s academic progress will be monitored jointly by the NFL club’s player engagement director and the school’s academic supervisors. Furthermore, a rookie player may elect to remain in school until the conclusion of his final examinations. No NFL club employee may indicate to the player that the Rookie Football Development Program is mandatory or attempt to persuade the player to leave school.
NFL clubs will continue to permit rookie players to return to school to participate in their graduation ceremonies.
 The NFL Rookie Football Development Program is a seven-week offseason workout program for players who were eligible for the most recently completed NFL Draft and players who have never signed an NFL Player Contract in a prior year. These players may also attend a three-day Rookie Minicamp held on either the first weekend or second weekend after the conclusion of NFL Draft.