The NFL and NFLPA have announced significant changes to the league’s offseason schedule in response to the travel and gathering restrictions put in place to fight the novel coronavirus-caused COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a memo to teams released by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on Monday, NFL teams will postpone the beginning of organized team activities, restrict travel during free agency negotiations and close team facilities to players for two weeks.
“Based on the most recent guidance provided by leading health officials, and in consultation with the NFLPA and both our and the union’s medical advisors, we believe this is the appropriate way to protect the health of our players, staff and our communities,” Goodell wrote in the memo. “We will continue to make decisions based on the best advice from medical and public heath experts and will be prepared to make further modifications as needed.”
During the free agency period, which officially opens at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, teams will not be permitted to bring free agents to a club facility or other location in their city to meet and club personnel are also not permitted to travel, meaning that all negations must be done electronically.
Medical records from previous teams will be released to prospective new destinations and players will have the ability to have a physical for their new team performed by a doctor in their home city, eliminating the necessity for travel.
OTAs were expected to start on April 6 for teams with new head coaches and April 20 for all other teams, including the Steelers. Instead, they will be pushed back indefinitely and in face, all team facilities will be closed to players, except those undergoing injury rehab, for at least two weeks.