At least for the time being, while the NFL has been willing to make some modifications to date to its offseason schedule, the only changes made have been as a result of the unresolved situation with the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Actually, that’s not entirely true, as the Annual League Meeting scheduled for the end of the month was cancelled as well, and they have also banned all in-person pre-draft visits. But the tentpoles of the offseason have not yet been uprooted.
Apparently, though, they were open to, perhaps even wanted to, move back to start of the new league year. It was the NFLPA that was against delaying the start of the new league year, which will begin on Wednesday in the evening. It is at that point that free agents can sign with other teams, and a number of other things begin then as well.
Adam Schefter reported this information, apparently courtesy of the NFL. It’s certainly an interesting strategy on the league’s part to make sure it’s known that the NFLPA is responsible for the date not being moved, considering there were a number of people saying that it would be bad optics, at the least, if they did not.
NFL says NFLPA would not provide consent to move league year, per source.
NFLPA says: No one is traveling anyway. It’s not football activity, it’s deals. Everyone is working remotely. Let’s do our business remotely. And this could get worse before it gets better. So do it now.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2020
“No one is traveling anyway”, is part of the NFLPA’s argument. For the majority of the most lucrative contracts that are signed, the terms of these deals actually take place during the three days leading up to the start of free agency, in the ‘legal tampering window’, even though no official business can be conducted prior to the start of the new league year. That’s why you see contracts announced the second the new league year begins.
That doesn’t apply to every player, of course, and it will seriously delay any player who is recovering from injury, as teams will want to see for themselves how they are progressing, and they will not be able to travel much, most likely, and undergo physicals and things of that nature.
The other part of the NFLPA’s argument against delaying the start of the new league year is, admittedly, rather prudent. Basically, things might be bad now, but it could be worse a week from now, a month from now. If they wait, it might be some time before they are able to start things up.
And so as we stand, an hour after this article publishes, teams will officially be able to speak to free agents from other teams, and then on Wednesday at 4PM, they will be able to officially agree to terms on a contract. It is also at that point that all RFA tenders must be placed, and all teams must be compliant with the salary cap. So we’re almost there. It’s been a long road, and it will continue to be a rough and complicated one, but the new league year is nearly upon us.