Allen Park — In an internal memo, obtained and posted in full by ESPN, the NFL set forth new protocols for free-agent signings starting Wednesday, and delayed all offseason programs indefinitely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Detroit Lions had been scheduled to begin Phase I of the team's offseason program — which focuses on strength and conditioning — in April, before the NFL Draft. Rookie minicamp, OTAs and mandatory minicamp, set for the months of May and June, are also on hold.
"The league and the NFLPA will continue to monitor the developing situation and follow the guidance of medical and public health professionals, including their respective medical advisers to determine an appropriate start date for such activities and other related considerations" the memo stated. "During this period, the league and union, through their respective medical consultants, will develop a standard set of protocols for clubs to implement regarding facility cleaning and maintenance, equipment preparation, steps to identify players and staff who may be at elevated risk for the coronavirus and other preventable measures."
Additionally, the league has closed team facilities to all players from March 17-31, excluding those who are currently receiving treatment from their team's medical or training staffs.
Finally, the league clarified that teams may not meet with free agents prior to entering new contractual agreements. That includes having the players travel to team facilities or having team personnel traveling to the player.
Medical examinations can still be required as part of the contract, but they must be conducted in either the player's home city or nearby location by a neutral physical. The league acknowledged it was still working to construct a list of potential physicians for the process.
"A player may decline to undergo a neutral physical exam," the memo stated. "Of course, a club may refrain from signing a player until the player either undergoes a neutral physical exam or the restrictions are lifted."
Depending on how teams opt to proceed, this could slow many signings from becoming official once players are eligible to sign starting Wednesday.