The NFL consistently has said it has “no plans” to delay the start of free agency. Those plans could indeed be on the verge of changing.
On Saturday, Saints coach Sean Payton (a member of the Competition Committee) expressed a belief that free agency will be delayed.
“Most immediately, the start of our league year, which is due to be this Wednesday, I think, free agency begins, that’s gonna be, I think, pushed back,” Payton said, via Amie Just of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The league year does indeed begin on Wednesday. As a practical matter, free agency typically begins with the opening of the negotiating window. This year, that’s due to happen on Monday at 12:00 p.m. ET.
We reported on Thursday that the league wants to wait until voting closes on the CBA before making any decisions about possibly delaying the start of the league year, in order to avoid further details in CBA voting. A Saturday night report from Mark Maske of the Washington Post lends significant credence to that theory, by explaining that, “[o]nce the CBA voting result is known, the NFL and NFLPA are expected to be in contact Sunday to determine the next steps for the offseason — whether or not to delay free agency and postpone teams’ offseason programs for players.”
So the league won’t be delaying the start of free agency. Until it does. And Maske’s report makes it clear that a topic on which the NFL has refused to bend will become flexible on Sunday.