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New England Patriots

Jul 26, 2018; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick makes his way to the practice field during training camp at Gillette Stadium. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The National Football League may still move forward with the start of the league year and NFL free agency as scheduled. But the coronavirus pandemic is starting to affect the football world, even in the offseason, due to the travel needed to prepare for the draft.

Coaches, GMs, and scouts across the league are beginning to transition away from the cross-country travel that’s typical of draft prep, from Pro Days to pre-draft visits to their own facilities. The Patriots are among the teams telling their coaches and scouts not to fly and work from home for now, according to a new report by The MMQB’s Albert Breer.

The 49ers, Bears, Eagles, and Falcons are the only teams to close their facilities entirely so far. But almost every team has encouraged employees to work from home. The league is reportedly leaving it up to teams whether to proceed with top-30 visits with draft prospects. And of course, they may end up without a choice anyway.

It’s the latest sign of how significantly the coronavirus outbreak is affecting businesses in all sectors, with live sports being one of the hardest-hit industries. The NHL, NBA, and Major League Baseball have all suspended play. March Madness is cancelled. The Masters and the Boston Marathon have been postponed. And clearly, even the NFL isn’t safe despite no games taking place.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the league is strongly considering a delay to the start of free agency. So we may not even have that to talk about in the coming weeks.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.