NFL Announces League Year Will Start on Time Despite Coronavirus Concerns

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2020

Rain drops are seen on the NFL logo on padding of a goal post at M&T Bank Stadium during the first half of NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 20-17. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The NFL said Thursday that it has "no plans to move the start of the league year," despite nationwide concern regarding the spread of the coronavirus, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter

The NFL's new league year is officially set to begin March 18 at 4 p.m. ET, which is when teams can officially start signing and trading players.

While the league year remains unchanged, the deadline to declare franchise and transition players was moved from March 10 to March 16 at 11:59 a.m. ET to account for the players' vote on the proposed collective bargaining agreement. The players' votes are due by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.

Prior to the official start of the league year, the legal tampering period begins on Monday, which is when teams can begin speaking with players who are about to hit free agency.

Although the league year is expected to move forward as planned, coronavirus concerns could still have an impact on free agency. Teams often meet with players in person before signing them, and it is unclear if the COVID-19 pandemic could impact those visits.

Several NFL teams have already suspended travel for coaches and scouts, meaning they won't attend pro days for NFL draft prospects until further notice.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA announced Wednesday that it has suspended its season until further notice.

Also, every Power 5 conference and several others announced Thursday that they have canceled their men's basketball conference tournaments. Although the NCAA announced Wednesday that the NCAA men's and women's tournaments would be played without fans in attendance, those could now be in jeopardy.

Per CNN, there are more than 124,500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide and over 4,600 confirmed deaths. More than 1,200 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States.