The NFL on Monday announced an indefinite delay to offseason programs and a ban on travel to meet with free agents.
League commissioner Roger Goodell announced the directives following discussions with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and consultations with the medical teams for the NFL and NFLPA.
The changes to the offseason come due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic have caused cancelations and postponements inside and outside of the sporting world.
"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 said in a statement. “We will continue to make decisions based on the best advice from medical and public health experts and will be prepared to make further modifications as needed."
New head coaches would have been allowed to begin their offseason programs on April 6. All other teams, such as the 49ers and Raiders, would have been allowed to open their offseason programs on April 20.
The new league year and the opening of the free-agent signing period is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. The NFL put into place rules against travel. NFL clubs may not bring any free agent player to a club facility or other location to meet with club personnel.
Also, club personnel, including members of the club medical staff, may not travel to any location to meet with or conduct a medical examination of a free-agent player.
The NFL and NFLPA are developing protocols that will allow clubs the opportunities to review medical records of free agents from their prior clubs and to arrange for a free agent player to have a medical exam in the player's home city or at another nearby location.
The league said it also is closing team facilities to players, other than those undergoing medically-supervised rehabilitation and treatment, for the next two weeks. "It is our responsibility to work together and protect the health, safety and well being of everyone in our business,” Smith said in a statement. “Nonetheless, public safety is paramount during this national emergency and we will continue to work with the NFL, medical experts and seek guidance from federal agencies to adjust our business practices accordingly."