The NFL continues to consider whether to delay the start of free agency on Monday (technically Wednesday, as a practical matter Monday). And there’s one important reason to consider doing it now.
Apart from the bad optics associated with players cashing in while much of the country is adjusting to a new reality (except for the selfish asses who continue to congregate in crowded bars and restaurants, exacerbating the spread of the virus to those it will kill), there’s a chance that, if the league delays free agency by two or four weeks, things will be even worse when free agency starts.
It’s arguably better to do it now, before the spike happens and the clouds darken and we plunge into an extended stretch of isolation for the healthy and anything but isolation for the ill and those caring for them.
If it’s delayed two weeks and then, two weeks from now, another two weeks, will another two-week delay be needed? Then another? And another? Will the draft have to be bumped? Will the draft take place before free agency?
The players should want it to start now, since the sooner it starts the sooner they achieve financial certainty. (That said, a short delay would potentially help teams better understand the new CBA rules, and in turn to better prepare to spend.)
But the challenge will be, if free agency is delayed, to get it done at a time when things are better, not worse. That may not happen any time soon, which provides the best (and perhaps only) argument for getting it done now.
The league has yet to make any announcements or to engineer any leaks. Whatever the league does, it could make plenty of sense for Commissioner Roger Goodell to not issue a statement but record a video message in which he acknowledges the gravity of the situation, urges football fans to take steps to limit the spread of the virus, and to explain the decision regarding the start of free agency, whatever it will be.