NFL league year to begin on time; free agency starts Wednesday
Amid all the sports cancellations, there’s one piece of good news for fans:
The NFL league year will not be delayed.
The NFL sent a memo to teams informing them that the league year will start on time and free agency will begin Wednesday.
Negotiations between teams and free agents can begin Monday morning at 9 a.m. Arizona time.
Despite other major United States sports leagues including the NBA, NHL and MLB postponing games due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL felt confident proceeding with its offseason as scheduled because, among other reasons, large crowds of people won’t gather for free agency and travel isn’t a requirement to sign new contracts.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano outlined those reasons in a tweet and added that the NFL feared that if they pushed back the start date, the situation would get worse and put them more behind schedule.
Reasons why this has become the expectation as day has progressed, based on conversations I've had with people familiar:
1. Free agency isn't a spectator event with large crowds.
2. Deals can be done without visits.
3. What if they push it back two weeks and things get worse? https://t.co/M1iVK4vuYD
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) March 15, 2020
The NFL and players association announced the new collective bargaining agreement was approved Sunday morning by a vote of 1,019 to 959.
Among approved items includes a 17-game regular season that will begin sometime between 2021 and 2023, according to NFL.com. Until that approval, seasons will remain 16 games.
Beginning this season, there will be an extra wildcard team in both conferences.
The 2020 salary cap will be set at $198.2 million and $44.7 million in benefits.