While the rest of society seems to be postponing or cancelling everything right now in the wake of COVID-19, the National Football League sounds committed to conduct as much usual business as possible. According to a report today, the longtime plan for March 18th to kick off the new league year is still the current target.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared today that despite what’s going on in the surrounding world, the NFL has not yet decided to push its own key date back.
NFL continues to say it’s business as usual and new league will start this week. Multiple team officials express widespread skepticism that the NFL can start its league year this week, when our country is in crisis and so much – travel, visits, physicals – would have to happen.
Some 2020 offseason business has already been modified due to Coronavirus concerns. The Annual League Meeting was cancelled and the deadline for using the franchise and transition tags was postponed from March 10th to this Monday, March 16th.
In additional, the scouting process for the 2020 NFL Draft is being severely affected right now as schools are either delaying or cancelling pro days.
This does call into question the notion that free agency can commence next week as planned. With many unable or unwilling to travel, visits between players and prospective teams will have to be done remotely or perhaps won’t happen at all.
Some will chastise the NFL for not suspending its activity as others sports have been. But obviously, there aren’t actual games and it’s a very different kind of activity from what the basketball world, golf, and other sports are having to consider.
That said, with so much uncertainty today and perhaps more to come between now and Wednesday, the March 18th start date may be unreasonably ambitious.
Expect more information in the coming days as all 32 teams, players, agents, and others have their say in what business can be accomplished during the COVID-19 crisis. For now the NFL is sticking to next week’s plans, but it’s hardly written in stone.