Raiders vs. Browns, Seahawks vs. Rams, WFT vs. Eagles Rescheduled amid COVID-19

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 17, 2021

CLEVELAND, OHIO - DECEMBER 12: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass against the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 12, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

The NFL and the NFL Players Association have decided to postpone Saturday's game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns until Monday,  while Sunday's Seattle Seahawks-Rams and Washington Football Team-Philadelphia Eagles games will be played Tuesday, according to a statement from the league:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

The NFL officially announces three games were moved from this weekend <a href="https://t.co/YPdyEh3Bw3">pic.twitter.com/YPdyEh3Bw3</a>

CBS Sports' Josina Anderson first reported the news. 

The Browns are working through a COVID-19 outbreak in their organization.

Two other games, the Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams and Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles, were also postponed:

Cleveland had 24 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Friday morning, per ESPN's Jake Trotter. That includes players who've been on the list since last week and those added leading up to the Raiders game, including quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield called on the NFL to delay the game for player safety:

Baker Mayfield @bakermayfield

Actually caring about player safety would mean delaying the game with this continuing at the rate it is….<br>But to say you won’t test vaccinated players if they don’t have symptoms, then to pull this randomly. Doesn’t make any sense to me.

The league released a statement Thursday saying it would alter the COVID-19 protocols, including changes to the return-to-play requirements after positive tests:

"Throughout the pandemic we have continuously evolved our protocols to meet our goal of advancing the safety of the players, coaches and staff. The changes we are making today aim to address the increase in cases and the advent of the Omicron variant. Effective immediately, all clubs will implement preventative measures that have proven effective: masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel. We will continue to strongly encourage booster shots as the most effective protection. Finally, and based on expert advice, we will adjust the return-to-participation requirements for those who have recovered from COVID-19. All of these changes are grounded in our data and science-backed approach, with safety our number-one goal for the entire NFL community."

Cleveland isn't the only team that faces severe coronavirus issues. The Chicago Bears, Rams and Washington each have at least 10 players on the COVID list too, per CBS Sports' Bryan DeArdo and Cody Benjamin.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported the league could postpone multiple Week 15 games as a result, but only if there's evidence of continued virus spread and not for competitive reasons:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

The NFL has made clear the past two seasons it won’t postpone games for competitive reasons (e.g. the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Broncos?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Broncos</a> playing with no QBs, etc.). But it did reschedule several games last season in cases where there was evidence of ongoing COVID spread. This would be a medical decision.

All 32 teams' bye weeks are completed, so the remaining schedule has limited flexibility. Last year saw multiple postponements throughout the season, but enough time remained to fit in all the games.

Any need to add an extra week at the end of the new 18-week season would impact the playoff schedule and potentially eliminate the off week between the conference title games and the Super Bowl when the Pro Bowl is typically played. Last season's Pro Bowl was played virtually on the Madden video game because of the pandemic.

In turn, the NFL would prefer short-term delays of a few days to avoid widescale schedule changes with four weeks left in the regular season.