When it comes to its plan for free agency in light of current global events, the NFL could be consciously choosing the appearance of tone deafness over strategic benefit, for now.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the “NFL continues to say it’s business as usual and new league will start this week.” And while Schefter continues not to point out that the league is believed to be waiting until after CBA voting has closed to change its plans (enough believe this that he surely would have heard it by now), Schefter acknowledges that “[m]ultiple team officials express widespread skepticism that the NFL can start its league year this week, when our country is in crisis and so much — travel, visits, physicals — would have to happen.”
The truth continues to be that, if the league will be delaying on Sunday the start of the league year and free agency, it has indeed decided to say nothing about it until after tonight, when voting closing on the new CBA. This will mean that the league wants to avoid a situation where the union will piggyback on a delay in the start of free agency and delay the CBA voting or, possibly, re-do it in light of the dramatically changed circumstances.
As to the CBA vote, there’s a belief that the outcome will be close, and that it could go either way. There’s also a belief that any votes cast based on the events of the past few days are far more likely to be yes.
Some still think the notion that the league wants the players to vote no is bluffing or posturing or reverse psychology or whatever. The possibility that the league is willingly allowing itself to be painted by many in the media as out of touch in order to increase the chances that the CBA won’t be ratified strongly suggests otherwise.
The fact that the league is keeping its cards pressed tightly to the vest only enhances that perception.