Trades may not become final for a while

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PFT has obtained the memo sent by the NFL to its teams regarding the question of administering physicals to players acquired by trade. The procedures necessitated by the COVID-19 outbreak could delay the finalization of these deals, for a while.

Usually, trades negotiated before the start of the new league year become final shortly after the start of the new league year, when the two teams inform the league of the trade and the player passes a physical. But with the player prohibited from arriving at his new team’s facility and with team doctors prohibited from traveling to the player through March 31 (for now), the physicals may not happen quickly.

Teams can rely on the alternative procedure created for free agents, with the player examined by an outside physician located at or near the player’s place of residence. But this approach would delegate to a stranger the question of whether the player passes or fails, with the team’s hand-picked doctors getting no chance to get their hands or eyes on the player before the deal goes (or doesn’t go) through.

It shouldn’t be a big issue for players who exited the 2019 season without major health issues. For a player like Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who has received permission to arrange a trade, no team will want to proceed without having its doctors examine the foot, shoulder, ankle, and any other currently or previously injured area of Newton’s body.