BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — While the rest of the sports world is being put on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is proceeding with business as usual going forward, and the key dates and times in the NFL offseason still remain intact, as of Friday afternoon.
This means we should still learn the football future of Tom Brady early next week.
Dates/times to remember:
Saturday, March 14 11:59 p.m. - Players' Union vote on CBA due
Monday, March 16 11:59 a.m. - deadline for use of Franchise Tag
Monday, March 16 12:00 p.m. - legal tampering period begins(clubs can begin negotiating and reach deals with other teams' free agents)
Wednesday, March 18 4:00 p.m. - 2020 League Year begins, free agents can officially sign contracts.
Even though the specific times haven't changed, a few of the details around them have. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, most teams (including the Patriots) have pulled scouts and staff off the road, instructing them to work from home. Some teams have even closed their facilities due to concerns over an outbreak of the virus.
When it comes to free agency, teams and player representatives usually negotiate over the phone nowadays anyway, so these restrictions shouldn't have too big of an impact for most players. Where we may see a hold-up is for the players who have injury question marks, since they won't be able to go to team facilities for physicals next week. Don't be alarmed if you see the phrase "agree to terms" a lot over the coming weeks.
This is all subject to change, however. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk says that the league may look to delay the start of free agency on Sunday, after they receive the CBA votes.
Florio writes: "Per a league source, the NFL currently is contemplating the possibility of announcing on Sunday a delay in the start of free agency. The league wants to wait until after voting on the CBA closes before making a final decision, in order to prevent further delays to the CBA voting process."
Former NFL General Manager and current CBS Sports NFL Analyst Scott Pioli says it would be "bad business" for both sides to go through with free agency while team facilities are closed.
On Friday afternoon, a number of teams used the Franchise Tag on players set to hit free agency. Most notably for "Brady Watch" purposes, that includes tight end Hunter Henry of the Chargers who was one of the rumored "weapons" that the Patriots would pursue to appease Brady's rumored desires for better offensive personnel.
One of the quarterback's current "weapons," Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, tweeted out Friday that he's hearing rumors that the franchise could be unveiling new jerseys for the upcoming season.
Perhaps a re-branding strategy for the post-Brady era? Or it could be a new third/alternate jersey, like the color rush uniforms the team would wear for select games, most notably Thursday Night Football?
As of right now, Brady Watch is in it's final few days.
WBZ NewsRadio's Dan Watkins (@DanWatkinsRadio) reports: