The NFL will not delay the start of its new league year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning free agency will proceed as planned this week.
The NFL’s negotiating window — otherwise known as the “legal tampering” period — is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. CT on Monday, and the new league year will commence at 3 p.m. CT Wednesday.
Now official. NFL sent memo to teams, informing them: Negotiation window noon tomorrow. League year weds. Franchise designation ends tomorrow at noon. Official.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2020
There had been speculation the NFL would delay the start of its league year and free agent period over concerns of the spread of COVID-19. Some teams, including the Bears, temporarily closed their facilities last week and suspended all business travel.
Reasons why this has become the expectation as day has progressed, based on conversations I've had with people familiar:— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) March 15, 2020
1. Free agency isn't a spectator event with large crowds.
2. Deals can be done without visits.
3. What if they push it back two weeks and things get worse? https://t.co/M1iVK4vuYD
A few big moves did trickle out on Sunday following the NFLPA's ratification of the new CBA. The Tennessee Titans signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a four-year, $118 million deal; Colts left tackle Anthony Castanzo re-upped in Indianapolis for two years and $33 million; and the Baltimore Ravens shipped a 2020 fifth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for defensive end Calais Campbell (that trade won't be official until the start of the new league year).
For the Bears, this means they'll proceed in free agency as usual, and may need to make some decisions quickly (like whether or not to retain Leonard Floyd) to free up cap space for this week's free agency frenzy.