How coronavirus is impacting the NFL offseason
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.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2020
NFL deploys essential staff only policy
The NFL has told all staff except for operationally critical staff to work from home until further notice beginning tomorrow — “out of an abundance of caution and with the health and safety of our communities as our foremost priority."
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2020
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.
A statement regarding the HBCU and Regional Combine Invitational: pic.twitter.com/viEGIjKDMs
— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) March 12, 2020
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.
Per sources last night and this morning:
-NFL has no plans to move back the start of the league year.
-NFLPA vote on CBA still scheduled to wrap up Saturday 11:59 pm ET.
-No plans for NFLPA to reconsider Monday’s resolution that would have allowed players to change their votes.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) March 13, 2020
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