Why would the NFL lie about something that it knows is not true and will be certainly and easily refuted? That is what I can’t help but wonder after league sources earlier in the week leaked to Adam Schefter that it was the NFLPA that prevented the league from pushing back the start of the new league year amidst the background of the coronavirus outbreak.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on ESPN yesterday made it clear that not only did it have nothing to do with them, the NFL never even consulted the union about the possibility of delaying free agency. And yet Schefter reported that was exactly the case, with others—typically, reporters who were very pro-CBA in their reporting—echoing that narrative.
One thing is clear, and that is that it wasn’t a universal decision from the league to prevent a delay in the start of free agency. Per Peter King, a number of team officials were very much against it, quoting one general manager as emphatically labeling the decision as “tone deaf”.
“The world has stopped. We’re in a national emergency as a country and we do this? It’s awful”, this general manager told King. “We’re telling the rest of the world we don’t care. Can you imagine the reaction to some player signing a $60-million contract this week and that being in the headlines while thousands and thousands of people are losing their jobs because of this virus! It’s ridiculous”.
In the same section to that article, which is slightly outdated, King did talk about how any change in the start date of the new league year would have to be approved by both the league and the union, and even writes that he was told by a source that Smith “wouldn’t budge” on the possibility of moving it.
Jay Glazer even said on Twitter yesterday that he had not “spoken to a single team executive who believes NFL free agency should begin on time”. Yet Smith denies that it was himself and the union holding this back.
So if that is not the case, and if so many executives with teams are disgusted that free agency is set to begin tomorrow, then…what is stopping them from delaying the start of free agency, still? There is no obstacle preventing them from doing this today.
And so we do have to consider it a possibility, albeit remote, that tomorrow may not begin the start of the new league year, or at least may not mark the beginning of free agency. Teams may, perhaps, be able to agree in principle to deals with players and to trades, but none of them will be made official until the paperwork is submitted, which will not be done until the new league year and free agency begins…whenever that happens.