Despite coronavirus worries, NFL free agency to proceed as scheduled

As the seasons of so many sports leagues are suspended, postponed or canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL is letting its offseason move forward as scheduled.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

The league sent an official memo to teams on Sunday saying the league will not delay the start of the new league year on Wednesday at 4 p.m., according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That means franchise and other tags will be due at noon on Monday, when free-agent negotiations can begin.

The decision to proceed comes despite some discussion of delaying the process as the coronavirus outbreak shuts down the sports world.

NFLPA pushed against coronavirus delay

According to Schefter, the NFL wanted to move back the start of its year, but the NFL Players Association would not agree to the measure. The union’s reported attitude toward a delay was that most discussions could be done remotely, and it’s not like the outbreak is showing many signs of getting better in the near future.

Retired Buffalo Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, still a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee, called for the start of free agency to pushed back on Sunday, but he was apparently in the minority among the NFLPA’s decision-makers.

According to Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson, a few NFL executives shared that outlook of not thinking a few weeks of delay would make things much better.

So that’s the state of the NFL right now. The global pandemic is going to be around for so long that even delaying its free agency a few weeks would do little to help the situation.

Sports world still on hiatus

As the NFL moves to conference calls for all its free-agency meetings, the rest of the sports world remains on hiatus for the most part.

The NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, PGA Tour, NCAA and XFL have all suspended or canceled their seasons, and a recent guidance on Sunday from the CDC recommended against gatherings of more than 50 people — including sporting events — for the next eight weeks.

The NBA reportedly sees the best-case scenario as a mid-June return in empty stadiums. If it goes much longer, we’ll see just how many offseason team activities the NFL ends up having to cancel. At the very least, it’s beginning to look like the NFL draft won’t have any fans in attendance.

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 29:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the Commissioners  press conference on January 29, 2020 at the Hilton Downtown in Miami, FL. Photo taken with an iphone 11 Pro.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NFL free agency will go ahead as planned, just with more conference calls than usual. (Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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