The NFL has said over the past week that it has no intention of changing the start of the new league year, set to kick off this Wednesday. The new league year brings free agency, and two days prior, the free agency tampering period. However, more and more people are suggesting a change could happen due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Pro Football Talk reported on Thursday that once the CBA vote is complete on Sunday, the league is “contemplating the possibility of announcing on Sunday a delay in the start of free agency.” On Saturday, Washington Post reporter Mark Maske reported that once the votes are counted, the NFL and NFLPA are expected to discuss next steps in the offseason and whether or not to delay the start of free agency and offseason workout programs.
Earlier on Saturday, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was taking in some horse racing and was asked about the outbreak and what it might mean. He thinks we see a delay to start of the whole process.
“Most immediately, the start of our league year, which is due to be this Wednesday I think, free agency begins, that’s gonna be, I think, pushed back because there’s a lot that goes into that, there’s a lot of visits players take. The next item would be the draft. I don’t know if that’s gonna change date-wise. Certainly the format’s gonna change, relative to what they’re used to.”
Late Saturday, veteran NFL reporter Hub Arkush reported he’s heard the draft has been pulled out of Las Vegas and will be moved to late May “at least” — with all that being announced once the CBA vote is finalized. We have yet to hear the notable big name reporters on this, but it’s possible their sources don’t want them disrupting things until after the CBA vote is finalized.
We don’t know what’s what quite yet, but odds seem decent a delay is coming.