Monday’s memorandum regarding the NFL’s offseason procedures in the age of COVID-19 contains a conspicuous donut hole: It omitted any mention of physicals to be performed on players who are being or who could be traded.
According to the NFL, guidance will be provided to teams later today regarding that issue.
For free agents, the physical (if required) will be conducted by a neutral physician located at or near the player. That’s far from ideal, given that teams will surely prefer their own doctors to examine players before a multi-million-dollar investment is made. Which means that, for banged-up players like free-agent pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, the market won’t open until the restrictions are lifted.
For players like Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, the procedures for physicals prior to the finalization of trades will become critical. What team in its right mind would want to let a neutral doctor give the green light to Newton’s shoulder, ankle, foot, and/or any other potentially injured body part before sending compensation to the Panthers and taking on Newton’s deal?
It’s also important as to the pending trades of players like Calais Campbell (Jaguars to Ravens), DeAndre Hopkins (Texans to Cardinals), David Johnson (Cardinals to Texans), DeForest Buckner (49ers to Colts), and Stefon Diggs (Vikings to Bills), along with any others deals that have been or may be announced.
To the extent this angle previously was overlooked, it’s being addressed. And it will be critical as to the efforts of the Panthers to find a trade partner for quarterback Cam Newton. Without a meaningful exam conducted by the doctor(s) employed by the team that would be trading for Newton, no trade will be happening.