NFL year will start as scheduled, but league meeting canceled

There is no such thing as business as usual amid a global pandemic, but the NFL’s league year will start as scheduled Wednesday and, at this point, free agency will not be altered by the rising ripple-effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

The free-agent negotiating window, commonly referred to as the league tampering period, will begin at noon on Monday, with teams able to speak with agents and set parameters on player contracts. This can all be done remotely and thus the league has no issue in allowing the business of the league to commence. Teams can announce signings two days later.

Most of the major early deals are consummated without any personal contact. Free-agent visits this year will be at the discretion of the individual teams and likely will not come off, considering the COVID-19 scare limiting travel across the nation.

The NFL on Thursday canceled its annual meeting, which had been scheduled for March 29-April 1 in Palm Beach, Fla. Owners from every team, general managers and head coaches attend this meeting, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell notified all teams the meeting was canceled.

A statement issued by the league read in part, “This decision was made consistent with the league’s primary concern to protect the health of club and league employees and the public while enabling the league to continue with its essential business operations.’’

The football business normally discussed at the annual meeting will be taken up at the May 19 meeting, with rule changes and other football matters on the table. Coaches and general managers are expected to attend that meeting.

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