NFL reaches agreement on virtual offseason, plan to open facilities

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — With the majority of the professional sports world suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL continues to forge ahead with the various components of its offseason.

After staying on schedule for last month's free agency, and the draft on tap for the end of the month, the league has now reached an agreement with the players association to conduct a virtual offseason program, starting next week. 

Matt Patricia

Beginning on April 20, and running through May 15, teams are permitted to conduct three consecutive weeks of virtual work with players. That includes classroom instruction, non-football education programs and workouts.

Teams will be permitted to send players workout equipment and monitoring devices, as long as the cost for any individual player doesn't exceed $1,500. As would be standard through this portion of teams' offseason programs, participation is voluntary. 

NFL facilities, which were closed at the end of the last month, are going to remain closed in line with national, state and local regulations. If one facility remains closed, all club facilities must remain shut down during that period. That means all on-field activities, including training camp, will be contingent on all 32 teams have the green light to resume operation at the local level. 

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As for the draft, which runs from April 23-25, the NFL unveiled plans for the broadcast on Monday.

Calling it a small, but welcome diversion from our national crisis, the NFL intends to make the broadcast a three-day fundraiser, with money raised supporting six national non-profits and their respective COVID-19 relief efforts.

"We recognize the challenging times we are living in, but we are looking forward to presenting the 2020 NFL Draft and providing some hope for football fans everywhere," Seth Markman, ESPN vice president of production said in the statement. "For the past couple of years, ESPN's NFL and college teams have worked together on our draft coverage, and it has been a win for our viewers. This year, we are further excited to collaborate with the NFL Network creating an All-Star broadcast."

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The draft, which had originally been scheduled to air live from Las Vegas, will now be broadcast from ESPN's studios in Bristol, Conn. Draft hosts and a limited number of commentators will be in-studio, while a majority of the analysts, reporters and other experts will contribute remotely from home studios.

The broadcast will also include NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announcing picks from his home in Bronxville, New York. 

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers