“Until players are allowed to travel to team facilities, physicals might either be on hold or teams might have to make their decision based on the player’s previous end-of-year physical.” – King on the impact of the coronavirus on the new league year
“The big issue to me isn’t that one of five NFL players sat this crucial election out; it’s that 48.5 percent of the voters said no to the deal.” – King on the player’s CBA vote
“It might be just pre-draft chatter, but two teams over the weekend told me to watch Houston and DeAndre Hopkins.” – King on the Texans possibly seeking a DeAndre Hopkins trade
King Interviews NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills
“In this moment, by what is absent from our lives, it’s ever clear: Sports are important, just not important right now. And it’s OK to miss them.” – Tim Layden on sports and the coronavirus
STAMFORD, Conn. – March 16, 2020 – Peter King discusses NFL players voting to approve ratification of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the start of free agency and the new league year, and how the offseason has been impacted by the coronavirus in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King shares NFL offseason notes, including the status of the NFL Draft, a possible DeAndre Hopkins trade, and the free agent market for Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, and Jadeveon Clowney.
Additionally, ProFootballTalk.com will provide the latest free agency news, as NFL teams can begin negotiating with players beginning today at Noon ET. NFL insider Mike Florio and analyst Chris Simms, will also provide offseason and free agency updates on PFT Live and the Simms Unbuttoned podcast, and NBC Sports’ Tim Layden shares an essay on the importance of sports in a time of crisis.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
CORONAVIRUS AND THE NFL
King: “It was determined the league year would begin as scheduled Wednesday at 4 p.m. But there still could be a tussle over some issues related to that…I was told Sunday evening that, until players are allowed to travel to team facilities, physicals might either be on hold or teams might have to make their decision based on the player’s previous end-of-year physical.”
King on the pandemic’s impact on the NFL: “The major decision so far came Friday, with the NFL shutting down trips to team facilities by prospective rookies.”
NFL Chief Medical Office Allen Sills on prohibiting player visits to team facilities: “Obviously in these times when we’re all trying to do our part to avoid community transmission. We didn’t want to be in a position of asking young men to fly around the country.”
Sills on the virus’ impact on the NFL: “When you start talking about contact sports, that’s really a minor piece of it related to the overall bigger piece of the public health which is the real concern here, right?”
Sills: “Every NFL player should be just like everyone in the general public, which is to heed the updated recommendations that are coming out from the Centers for Disease Control and our public health leaders…What can we all do to reduce that spread and that transmission to the slowest and least penetration possible?”
King on the player vote: “The big issue to me isn’t that one of five NFL players sat this crucial election out; it’s that 48.5 percent of the voters said no to the deal. The naysayers hate the fact that there will be a 17th regular-season game, likely beginning in 2021, and think union boss De Smith caved too easily to the 17th-game demand.”
King on the players who voted ‘no’: “The biggest takeaway, from me, will be how the 959 men who voted no – that’s a huge number – look at their union now. And how they look at their union boss, Smith. For a union that took a very deep breath Sunday night after passage of the CBA, there still could be storm clouds coming from unhappy players.”
Highlights of King’s CBA takeaways:
- “Playoffs: The new 14-team playoffs, with the top seed in each conference getting the only byes, will very likely begin this season.”
- “The 17th Game: For now, the league is operating on the belief that all NFC teams one season will play nine home games and eight on the road one year, and the next year, all AFC teams will be home nine times and away eight. And no, there won’t be neutral-site games, or a huge increase in games outside the United States.”
- “Meh on the cap: With the increase of $100,000 per minimum guy, and the addition of two more $100,000-per-year practice-squadders, that’s about $2.7 million less to spend.”
- “Softer discipline: Players no longer will get suspended for positive pot tests…The league doesn’t want to catch players anymore. (But a DUI gets an automatic three-game ban.) And commissioner Roger Goodell will be replaced in most disciplinary cases by a neutral arbitrator.”
King on the start of the league year on Wednesday: “One owner and two general managers I spoke with Sunday were somewhere between frustrated and furious that Wednesday’s 4 p.m. start of the free-agency period hadn’t been delayed. The owner called it ‘tone deaf’ to be proceeding with business as usual with the coronavirus hanging over the world.”
King on why the beginning of the league year hasn’t changed: “To change the starting date of the league year, Goodell and Smith must agree, because it’s a collectively bargained issue. I’m told Smith “wouldn’t budge” (a source’s words, not mine, and backed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter), because he wanted the signing period to begin.”
One NFL GM to King: “The world has stopped. We’re in a national emergency as a country and we do this? It’s awful. We’re telling the rest of the world we don’t care.”
King on the draft: “It’s too early to predict whether the draft happens on time, and no one inside the league really knows what form it might take. Certainly if the worst of the virus is gone by late April (unlikely), the NFL could move the draft back a month and hold it in late May. But it could also be studio sport this year if need be.”
King on Tom Brady: “Tennessee signed Ryan Tannehill on Sunday, and NBC’s Chris Simms – close to Niners coach Kyle Shanahan – reported Sunday that the Niners are out on Brady…and that the Patriots and Bucs are the final two in line for him.”
King on Brady to the Bucs: “If Brady goes to Tampa Bay – early in the process, I heard Bruce Arians had significant interest, though I believe the Bucs could still ink Teddy Bridgewater – Brady would have two prime wideouts, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.”
King on DeAndre Hopkins: “It might be just pre-draft chatter, but two teams over the weekend told me to watch Houston and DeAndre Hopkins…Houston is currently in draft hell, without a top-50 pick in 2020 and 2021, and coach Bill O’Brien has huge needs to fill.”
King on Jadeveon Clowney: “Seattle will wait for the price to go down on Jadeveon Clowney, and if it does, the Seahawks very much want him. But I’d be surprised if they paid him premier pass-rush money. Another team with some cash (Giants? Jets?) might.”
King on Philip Rivers: “The Colts, flush with over $80 million in cap money, won’t let it burn a hole in its pocket. If Philip Rivers wants market value – or what his former market value was with the Chargers – I don’t see him getting it in Indy.”
King on the defensive back market: “I think the defensive back sure to get paid big is Dallas cornerback Byron Jones. Though I’m a little skeptical on the $17-million-a-year rumors, I do believe he could get overpaid by a team like the Eagles or Giants.”
Layden: “There comes a moment in every crisis when our culture gathers to declare solemnly that sports are not ‘important’…But behind that pro forma, though very genuine, declaration lies a deeper and more complex truth: The impact of sports on the daily lives of many Americans tells the story of an institution that sure looks like something important from a distance.”
Layden: “The games will be gone, and even amidst everything else that inconveniences us, and frightens us, the absence of those games will be profoundly felt.”
Layden: “The future is as uncertain as the present…There is a vague awareness that sports will return, but that awareness seems almost untouchable in the present, far away. Yet in this moment, by what is absent from our lives, it’s ever clear: Sports are important, just not important right now. And it’s OK to miss them.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live: Mike Florio and Chris Simms discuss offseason storylines, react to the passing of the CBA and the start of the league year, and provide updates on free agency.
- Click here for Simms’ report that the 49ers are out on Tom Brady and his decision will come down to the Patriots or Buccaneers.
- Click here to listen to why Simms believes the Titans made the right decision to re-sign Ryan Tannehill.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.