NFL Bans Free-Agency Facility Visits, Delays OTAs Indefinitely Amid Coronavirus

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2020

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 01: A general view of the NFL 100 logo on on the field prior to the game between the Miami Dolphins and the Philadelphia Eagles  at Hard Rock Stadium on December 01, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Mark Brown/Getty Images

The NFL rolled out new rules regarding free agency and delayed the start of offseason team activities indefinitely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Although free agency will officially open at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, franchises are prohibited from bringing free agents to any team facility. Team employees also can't travel to meet in person with free agents.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

In a memo to teams, the NFL has implemented new rules for free agency and postponed the off-season training activities indefinitely, in a memo obtained by ESPN. https://t.co/gFkSErJBa4

The memo also outlined restrictions for physical exams that precede a final agreement between a player and team:

"In the course of contract negotiations, clubs and free agent players are free to agree upon whether or not thee free agent player will undergo a medical exam in the player's home city or other nearby location (a 'neural physician exam') as a condition of entering such contract. ... A player may decline to undergo a neutral physician exam. Of course, a club may refrain from signing a player until the player either undergoes a neutral physical exam or the restrictions are lifted."

The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced sports leagues across the world to go on an indefinite hiatus. The situation is likely to remain the same through at least mid-May after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a period of at least eight weeks before organizing events with at least 50 people.

The impact of the coronavirus on the NFL has been somewhat limited since the regular season doesn't begin until Sept. 10.

The free agency negotiating window opened Monday, and a flurry of deals have already occurred. Among the more notable moves, the Arizona Cardinals reportedly acquired DeAndre Hopkins from the Arizona Cardinals, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The NFL also announced it still plans to hold the NFL draft from April 23-25, albeit on a more limited scale. All of the public events surrounding the draft in Las Vegas have been canceled.

The indefinite delay for offseason team activities could be just the first of a number of changes that may cast a significant shadow over teams' preparations for the 2020 season.