As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the sports world, the NFL canceled its first major event Thursday, announcing its annual league meeting will not take place later this month.
The NFL also directed its employees to work from home until further notice, a source told NBC Sports Chicago. There are some exceptions for critical staff, but the league office in New York City is essentially closed due to concerns over COVID-19.
The NFL Annual Meeting was scheduled to be held Mar. 29-Apr. 1 in Palm Beach, Fla. It is the one meeting of the year in which all coaches and general managers attend, in addition to the owners. Major rule changes are discussed and voted on at the meetings. All of that business will now be handled at the spring meeting scheduled for May 19-20. Coaches and general managers will attend that meeting instead.
At this point, the new league year, set for Wednesday, Mar. 18 has not been delayed, but there are growing concerns about logistics regarding free agency, including free agent visits. While the NFL is not in-season, teams have employees traveling all over for college pro days, which are on-going. Many teams announced Thursday that they are sending all of their scouts and coaches home. The Philadelphia Eagles said they are closing their team facility, beginning Friday.
More teams are expected to make similar decisions. At this point, there has been no word from the Chicago Bears on any adjustments they are making to operations.
According to multiple sources, the league is also discussing contingency plans for the NFL Draft, scheduled for Apr. 23-25 in Las Vegas. While moving the draft would be disappointing for Las Vegas, the actual draft picks are already made remotely at team facilities, so turning the event into a television-only show is feasible.