How coronavirus is impacting the NFL offseason

Mar 12, 2020, 10:00 AM | Updated: Mar 13, 2020, 8:52 am
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
(AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

Precautions to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has halted in-season leagues such as the NBA, college basketball and MLS. But it is also impacting the NFL, which is already amid a tumultuous offseason with the league awaiting player votes on a new collective bargaining agreement.

That vote was pushed back until Saturday, bumping the transition and franchise tag deadlines until Monday morning Arizona time, which comes two days before the 2020 new league year starts Wednesday at 9 a.m.

While the reaction to the coronavirus has remained fluid and rapidly changing for every sports league, here is the latest from the NFL front, where the offseason has been impacted just as it kicks into high gear.

NFL Draft plans remain

The NFL Draft is not slated to move back, but the NFL is discussing contingency plans and alterations, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The April 23-25 event was scheduled to take place in Las Vegas.

It could move venues, not include fans at all or be conducted over conference call.

NFL deploys essential staff only policy

Cardinals taking precautions

Reached on Thursday morning before the NFL told teams to operate with limited staff, the Cardinals issued a statement when asked whether their scouts were being limited or pulled off the road.

“Obviously we are monitoring this situation very closely and are in constant communication with the NFL’s medical team – led by Dr. Allen Sills – as well as receiving the latest recommendations from the CDC, WHO and DICON. We are communicating this information organization-wide and emphasizing the importance of rigorous hand hygiene, environmental disinfection, staying home if you are not feeling well and other recommendations.

“At this point, it has not affected football-related travel or activities but it is an evolving situation and we will certainly continue to closely monitor it.”

League meetings pushed to May

The NFL league meeting scheduled for March 29 through April 1 in Palm Beach, Fla., has been canceled and pushed to May.

League year won’t change

The NFL told reporters that next Wednesday’s new league year start will not be affected, and that remained true as of Friday morning.

NFL teams canceling draft facility visits

NFL agent Erik Burkhardt, who has represented Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury,tweeted on Thursday that the NFL has canceled prospects’ pre-draft visits to team facilities. That appears not to be a league-wide mandate, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said it is up to team discretion.

Teams were already individually discussing such measures.

Important NFL dates for 2020

Saturday, March 13, 8:59 p.m. — CBA voting deadline for players

Monday, March 16, 8:59 a.m. — Franchise tag application deadline for teams

Monday, March 16, 9 a.m. — Free agent contract negotiation period opens

Wednesday, March 18, 1 p.m.

— 2020 option deadline, salary tender deadline for restricted free agents
— Free agency, trading periods begin
— New League Year begins

April 17 — Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets

April 23-25 — NFL Draft in Las Vegas

May 19, 2020 — Spring owners meeting, Marina del Rey, Calif.

Late July — Training camps open

Aug. 6 — Hall of Fame game, Canton, Ohio

Aug. 8 — Hall of Fame inductions, Canton, Ohio

Sept. 5 — Final roster cutdown to 53

Sept. 10 — Kickoff game to open regular season

Sept. 13 — First full regular-season schedule

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