Stemming from a series of ongoing discussions that have spanned over the past week, the NFL is preparing a staggered tier of moves that will help protect individuals from exposure to the coronavirus pandemic, multiple sources told Yahoo Sports on Thursday.
The NFL canceled visits to team facilities by free agents and draft prospects. The league on Friday banned all team personnel from traveling anywhere, including college campuses, to meet with draft prospects ahead of April’s signature offseason event.
The league meetings slated to kick off in Florida at the end of March were canceled Thursday. Any votes on “open football issues, including playing rules, bylaws, and resolutions, as well as other business matters that were on the agenda” will happen at the spring meeting in May, the league announced.
One league source said “all options are on the table” regarding a swath of league-related business and events over the next several months, including free agency, the draft and potentially multiple aspects of how teams will function over the next several weeks and even months.
Multiple sources told Yahoo Sports the NFL’s ownership groups and league executives have been corresponding on an hour-to-hour basis in the past several days, as the country’s travel and business landscape have been shaken by measures taken to contain the virus. A sweeping response covering meetings, free agency and draft preparations and events is being considered.
Pro days affected
A number of notable pro days for 2020 NFL draft prospects have been affected, too.
Rutgers' pro day, slated for Friday, has been cancelled.— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) March 12, 2020
Oregon’s pro day, featuring projected top-10 pick QB Justin Herbert, went on as scheduled Thursday.
What’s next for the league year?
The NFL, however, said the start of the new league year remains set for Wednesday.
Two team officials told Yahoo Sports on Thursday morning that franchises are awaiting guidance from the NFL on the most pressing events facing teams — from draft preparations to the start of the free agency process on Monday. A league source said all 32 NFL franchises have already convened meetings between their ownership groups and high-level executive staffers, in an effort to begin their own measures of protecting employees, players, coaches, personnel and administrative staffers.
“[Our ownership] already made some of the decisions in terms of telling non-essential employees to stay home and we’ll have meetings basically nonstop about what we’re going to do with the draft prep and free agency,” one high-ranking team executive said Thursday. “… We’ve been told to expect some guidelines from the [league office] sometime today.”
Two team officials said the NFL is preparing a conference call with all 32 franchises that will begin to lay down a road map regarding at least the next two weeks of activity, which would encompass the beginning of free agency and the league year.
Teams limit personnel movements
Multiple teams have preemptively altered their personnel movements, including the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears.
The league-related Hall of Fame fan fest has already been postponed and other events are expected to follow suit. Eventually, the NFL will have to determine if the league’s Las Vegas draft in April would be strictly a television event.
Pro Football Hall of Fame closes
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is taking measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, closing the museum to the public until March 27.
As a public health precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), we will be closed to the public effective March 16 - March 27. The health and safety of the HOF’s visitors, as well as staff and volunteers, is our top priority.— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) March 14, 2020
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