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NFL, NFLPA Announce Major Changes to COVID-19 Protocols

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The NFL and NFLPA informed clubs Monday of a significant changes to their COVID-19 protocols.

Moving forward, individuals that come into “high risk” exposure with a COVID-19 positive individual must quarantine themselves for at least five days. They must do so even if they test negative initially and are asymptomatic.

To return to their respective clubs, individuals quarantining under these circumstances must produce daily negative test results and receive approval from ICS and the NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills.

Hypothetically, if a player or staff member were to come in a risky, close contact situation with an individual on Tuesday of a game week, they would miss a game on Sunday regardless of their symptoms.

The mandatory isolation is not the only change the league and NFLPA made to their protocols this week. Masks will be required during all walk-through practices, exceptions have been made to they bye-week policy and its testing requirements and NFL security will now be conducting protocol compliance checks starting in Week 7. Clubs will be required to submit internal video as a part of such check if prompted.

These adjustments to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols come in the wake of recent outbreaks among the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots. The Titans has their Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers postponed until Week 7 while the Patriots will now host their matchup with the Denver Broncos originally set for Week 5 on Oct. 18.

In a release Tuesday, the NFL and NFLPA announced 15 new positive cases stemming from their last period of testing. Eight of the positives were players, while the other seven were of staff.

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J.J. Watt is Signing with the Arizona Cardinals

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The weeks of waiting and theatrics are over. Free agent defensive end J.J. Watt is signing with the Arizona Cardinals.

Watt broke the news himself on Monday afternoon, tweeting a picture of himself squatting in a Cardinals t-shirt.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Watt is signing a two-year, $31 million deal with Arizona, $23 million of which will be guaranteed.

Watt joining the Cardinals comes as somewhat of a surprise, as reporting over recent weeks had suggested the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns were the last favorites standing.

Still, Watt’s former Houston Texans teammate and current Cardinals wide receiver Deandre Hopkins was actively recruiting the star defensive end to Arizona just two weeks ago.

“Let’s finish what we started,” Hopkins said in an Instagram post picturing the two embracing with Watt Photoshopped into a Cardinals jersey.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the early favorites to land Watt, reuniting him with his brothers T.J. and Derek, but the clubs financials made the most virtually impossible to compete with an offer like Arizona’s.

The Cardinals now own one of the league’s fiercest defensive fronts, pairing Watt alongside elite edge rusher Chandler Jones, who has 97 career sacks.

Arizona already had the fourth-most sacks in football last season with 48.

Watt departed Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).

Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.

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NFL Insider John Clayton: Steelers Out of Running for J.J. Watt

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One of the league’s most prominent insiders believes the Steelers are out of the running for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt.

Joining The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton said Watt will not be joining his brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh.

Clayton sees the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to land Watt’s services.

For a potential dark horse, Clayton says the Las Vegas Raiders as an outside-the-box candidate to sign the veteran pass rusher.

Watt leaves Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).

Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.

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NFL Hosting Women’s Careers in Football Forum

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The NFL is hosting its fifth annual Women’s Careers in Football Forum from Feb. 24-25, the league announced in a press release Tuesday.

The event will be held virtually and “connect 40 women, 75% of whom are women of color, with leaders in professional football to help those women network and build relationships in the areas of coaching, scouting and football operations.”

Those participating in the event will join panel discussions, breakout sessions and have networking opportunities with industry leaders, such as head coaches and team executives. All portions of the event are aimed at building connections that will result in hirings and subsequent representation.

Since its inception in 2017, the two-day event has assisted in developing “a more diverse talent pipeline by connecting high-potential women to career opportunities in football.” According to the league, 118 opportunities for women in football have been created as a result.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and wife Jane Skinner Goodell will speak, as well as NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer Dawn Aponte. In addition, three owners, seven head coaches and six general managers will also join the conversation.

Sarah Thomas made history earlier this month becoming the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. The champion Tamp Bay Buccaneers also had a record number of women on their coaching staff this past season.

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