Desperate sports fans rejoice: NFL proceeding with free agency as scheduled

Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Big news for sports fans stuck in their homes with no games to play. In the NFL, the show goes on.

As reported by Adam Schefter and other top insiders on Sunday, the league is moving forward with the start of NFL free agency as scheduled. That means the action begins on Monday at noon, when the legal tampering period opens between players, teams, and agents.

Monday at noon also marks the deadline for teams to place the franchise tag on players. After that, players will have a 52-hour head start to negotiate with other teams. The 2020 league year begins at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, at which point players will hit free agency and be able to officially ink new deals.

Wednesday marks an important deadline for Tom Brady and the Patriots. Brady carries a dead cap charge of $13.5 million if he becomes a free agent. The Patriots would be able to spread $6.75 million over the next two years if they file a new contract before 4 p.m. on March 18. For this reason, it will get that much harder for Brady to be retained in New England if the deadline passes without a deal.

Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during his press conference following their playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during his press conference following their playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The news is a much-needed relief for desperate sports fans who are stuck with no new games to watch amid widespread shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA and NHL have suspended their seasons while Major League Baseball has suspended spring training. In Massachusetts, gatherings of over 25 people are banned and all public schools are closed for at least three weeks.

Since the start of free agency doesn't often require in-person meetings and can be handled remotely, the NFL had little in the way of public health concerns during the process. Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, for instance, let his agent do the work for him as far as reaching an agreement with the Patriots back in 2017. The two sides agreed to a deal early in the process with no need for an in-person visit or cross-country travel.

For that reason, expect a typically active start to NFL free agency on Monday when the legal tampering period begins. Reports and rumors will fly on interest between players and teams. There may even be reports of players' intentions to sign with particular squads. Considering the circumstances, it will be the most followed start to a league year in NFL history.

Hunker down and buckle up.

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 [email protected].