The NFL is reportedly expecting free agency to go on as planned despite the growing threat of COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic.
Some expected a different result, such as Sean Payton, who thought it would be delayed. However, as noted by Dan Graziano of ESPN, there were a few factors at play here.
The legal tampering period is set to start on Monday after the deadline to franchise players, with free agency itself beginning two days later. Here’s what the rest of the week will look like as the league gets free agency going.
Currently, most pro sports leagues around the world have either cancelled or suspended their seasons due to COVID-19. The first shoe to drop was when Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, March 11, which led to the NBA suspending its season indefinitely.
Many states have shut down schools as the pandemic has rapidly spread throughout the nation, and President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to free up funds to help fight the coronavirus. On Sunday, some states also announced that restaurants and bars will be closed due to the growing threat of COVID-19.
Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said he’d “like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see” in restaurants and bars, among other places where people congregate, for the foreseeable future.
“We need to be very serious about — for a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the United States,” he said, speaking with CNN. “We have to just accept that if we want to do what’s best for the American public.”
With that in mind, and considering that players would need to travel to undergo physicals before new contracts are finalized, it’s a bit surprising that the NFL is expecting to continue on with free agency as if business as usual was going on everywhere else.