FMIA 2020 NFL Mock Draft: Three Trades, a Tua Stunner and a Round 1 Full Of Hope

2020 NFL mock draft
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I am, by nature, a hopeless optimist. (After you see my 2020 NFL Mock Draft 2020 below, you’d think the more apt description is hopeless masochist.) So I am glad the draft is going on despite the pandemic. It’s a pain for teams, of course, but competitively, it’s the same for everyone. The Chargers’ Tom [more]

Another PFT Sunday mailbag

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With the draft only four days away, the NFL machine is gathering itself for what will be a frenetic week. Which means there isn’t a whole lot happening right now. Which makes it a perfect time to answer 10 of your questions, as submitted via the PFT Twitter account.

So grab some lunch, settle in, and try not to get any Kenny Rogers Roasters grease on the keyboard.

From @PFTPMPosse: “Could you see the NFL ever going to a PPV style model for broadcasting games?”

It’s highly unlikely that NFL games would ever be exclusively available via a pay-only model. Even as streaming grows, millions of fans rely on non-Internet options for watching TV, whether through over-the-air signals in metropolitan areas or satellite dishes in rural locations. Unless and until streaming can gather audiences like those that flock to three-letter networks for NFL content (currently, NBC, CBS, and FOX), the league will continue to make multiple games per week available at no charge to consumers.

The business reason is simple. Every game televised on free TV becomes an infomercial for the sport, for which the NFL gets paid huge money by the network televising it. The smaller the audience, the less potent the message. The challenge becomes striking the right balance between the money paid for the rights and the reach of the broadcast.

A very important political reason exists for maintaining free TV access to NFL games. In the 1960s, Congress gave the NFL a broadcast antitrust exemption, allowing a collection of distinct businesses to come together and sell its TV rights collectively. If/when the NFL sells those rights in a way that freezes out the average consumer, Congress may strip the league of its antitrust exemption, forcing a new reality in which the Cowboys sell their rights for billions and the teams no one really wants to watch scramble for whatever they can get on The Ocho, or wherever.

That said, look for the NFL to try to expand its streaming footprint aggressively. Although DirecTV likely will keep the satellite right to NFL Sunday Ticket, momentum has been building for the league to sell digital rights to Amazon or YouTube or ESPN+ or any other entity that would pay huge money for the rights to put out-of-market games on phones, computers, laptops, etc. Indeed, don’t be shocked if the NFL eventually decides to create a direct-to-consumer option for this, something the league already does with live preseason games and with regular-season and playoff games that already have been played.

From @aredzonauk: “Will the NFL or ESPN work-in some booing to make [Roger] Goodell feel at home?”

The TV presentation of the draft reportedly will include a montage of 15 fans per pick, who supposedly will interact with the Commissioner and/or react to the selections. That’s likely too small of a crowd to give the fans the kind of anonymity that would be conducive to booing him.

The league sees it every year at the draft. Tens of thousands will boo lustily when the Commissioner walks to the podium. And then any, some, or all of the specific persons from the group that boos will, if given the chance to get close to him, clamor for handshakes and hugs and smiles and selfies with Roger Goodell.

All that said, don’t completely rule out the possibility of a sufficiently #selfaware Goodell arranging for his wife and daughters to boo him in jest when the process starts. If executed the right way (and it wouldn’t be easy to do it), Goodell could score major points with NFL fans everywhere if he finds a way to poke fun at the fact that, if the draft were happening in Las Vegas, the thousands assembled on the Strip wouldn’t be chanting “Wayne NEWWWWW-ton.”

From @95KeepPounding: “Do you think [G.M.] Marty Hurney will finally be out of Carolina after the draft or will Dave Tepper make the ultimate mistake and extend the contract of a guy who is 102-122 in his 14 years as a GM?”

During the final episode of last year’s All or Nothing, Panthers owner David Tepper said something that made me think that both coach Ron Rivera and Hurney were on very thin ice.

“This league is set to be an 8-8 league,” Tepper said. “Everything is fair in this league. So if you have better coaches, better GM’s, some advantages with facilities, advantages with the training, management process, whatever those, whatever it is, you know, analytics, whatever that is to give you an edge, that’s what you need. And you need a good quarterback.”

Tepper already has replaced Rivera, a two-time coach of the year, with Matt Rhule. Hurney has to date remained in place, but it’s entirely possible that Tepper intends to wait until after the draft (as plenty of teams now do) to make a change. It’s the kind of thing that gets loudly denied until it happens — and then it happens and instead of obsessing over the fact that the team sent false messages and/or flat-out lied, the media focuses more on what’s next.

But the Panthers surely wouldn’t do something like this. Not the team that spent so much time at the Scouting Combine selling the notion that they plan to keep Cam Newton for multiple oh wait.

From @LockerRoomTalka: “Do you think [Bill] Belichick will pass [Don] Shula in all time wins before he retires?”

Yes. And I was really tempted to just stop there.

Shula has 328 wins. Belichick has 273. Which means that Belichick has 55 wins to go.

Belichick turned 68 on Thursday. Although Belichick has said in the past that he doesn’t want to coach into his 70s, that’s a much tougher commitment to make when parked only 727 days away from them.

Owner Robert Kraft has previously told PFT Live that he’d like to see Belichick coach into his 80s, comparing Belichick (and Kraft himself) to people like Rupert Murdoch and Warren Buffett, who continue to work at a high level a generation or more beyond what used to be the accepted retirement age.

For Belichick, the question becomes how long he’ll coach into his eighth decade — and how many games he’ll be able to win per year without Tom Brady at quarterback. If Belichick can remain in the range of 10-12 wins per year, he’ll need five seasons to pass Shula. If the Patriots fall into the 8-8-on-average category (with scattered seasons of 6-10 and 7-9 and 8-8- and 9-7 and 10-6), he’ll need seven years.

Health permitting, Belichick surely will keep going. The real question is whether and when he’ll begin to struggle to remain on his feet and moving around a sideline for three or more hours. That’s precisely why George Halas, currently second on the all-time victory list with 318, retired from coaching at the age of 73.

All things considered, Belichick probably has at least five years left. And five years could be all he needs to catch and pass Shula.

From @MaximusOvrdrv: “Should the NFL start broadcasting games throughout the week (say a game on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, etc.) if high schools and colleges do not resume their football programs? In your opinion, would that be a better way for not only the NFL, but for the fans as well?”

The broadcast antitrust exemption (that’s two mentions of it in one mailbag) prevents the NFL from televising games on Fridays or Saturdays from Labor Day weekend through early December. So the first challenge would be securing a one-time dispensation from Congress. That presumably would be easy to accomplish, if high school and college football aren’t playing in 2020. Then again, college football could choose make a stink about it; the powers-that-be may wantr FOX and ESPN to broadcast past games during the traditional college football viewing windows throughout the day on Saturday, with no competition from pro football.

Assuming that the NFL can televise games on Fridays and Saturdays without losing their antitrust exemption, would the NFL choose to do it? With no other football available in 2020, why not?

Scheduling could be an issue, but the removal of fans from the equation (which likely will be the case if high-school and college football aren’t played at all) would make it easier to move games from the Sunday-afternoon cluster to Friday night or throughout the day on Saturday. Also, if the NFL season ends up being played with, for example, all teams sequestered in Florida hotels (where pro sports are deemed to be an “essential” business), the travel burdens will be minimal for teams that play on, for example, a Friday after a Sunday or a Saturday after a Monday night.

With the ticket revenue likely gone, adding up to four weekly broadcast windows (one on Friday night and three on Saturday) would help make back plenty of money for the league. If, of course, the league can get the networks to pay for it.

If not, well, maybe those extra games become streaming-only, with fans paying for the ability to watch. Surely, if there’s no high-school or college football this year, hundreds of thousands if not millions will fork over whatever the charge will be to watch football on Friday nights and all day Saturday.

From @leepers500: “What is the message to the market of [Christian] McCaffrey’s deal? You have to produce yards through the air AND on the ground (I believe he’s quite high on the receiving yards list each year as well as rushing)? Or is it: if you are the lone superstar on rebuilding franchise, you get paid?”

The message is simple: Every running back will be valued and evaluated individually.

Some will be regarded as interchangeable pieces, chewed up and spit out and replaced with another rookie after three or four or maybe five years. Others will secure big-money paydays from teams that believe/hope they’ll keep tread on the tires deep into their 20s — and that for business reasons realize that the player sells plenty of tickets, jerseys, etc.

Production and versatility become a huge part of the assessment, and McCaffrey checks both boxes. He also has become the new face of the Carolina franchise, given the release of Cam Newton and the retirement of Luke Kuechly. In an alternate reality where both are still on the team, would the Panthers have moved so aggressively to get McCaffrey under his second contract? Maybe not.

So the reality is that the market for running backs will remain muddled and largely depressed, given the ability in any/every given year to find incoming prospects who will move the chains and score points if: (1) they get competent blocking; (2) they learn how to hold onto the ball when facing NFL-caliber defensive players who are skilled at ripping it out; and (3) they can be trusted to pick up blitzing defenders.

Not many will break from that formula. And if McCaffrey’s performance significantly dips over the next year or two, it may be even harder for the next McCaffrey to get paid as early in his career as McCaffrey did, after only three seasons.

From @LawrenceTheHump: “If the giants had selected Sam Darnold or Baker [Mayfield] rather than Saqoun [Barkley], would they be more competitive and competing for a playoff spot this year?”

At the risk of being “that guy” (while still being “that guy”), the Giants couldn’t have drafted Mayfield in 2018 without trading up from No. 2 to No. 1. But the point is a good one.

The Giants, instead of taking a running back, could have had Darnold or Josh Allen or even 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. More importantly, they could have had pass-rusher Bradley Chubb or already-All-World guard Quenton Nelson.

When the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011, they had great defensive and offensive lines. And great offensive and defensive linemen have much more staying power than great running backs. For instance, the team that stopped the Patriots from going 19-0 was led defensively by Michael Strahan, who had been drafted in 1993.

So the real question is whether the 2018 Giants should have waited to get a running back later (like maybe Nick Chubb at the top of round two) and pounced on Bradley Chubb or Nelson at with the second pick in round one, and whether either guy (coupled with Nick Chubb) would place the Giants in better position to secure a playoff berth now than Barkley (coupled with guard Will Hernandez, taken one spot before Nick Chubb) does.

But the better question isn’t whether that approach would enhance the Giants’ chances now, but whether having Bradley Chubb or Nelson would help put in place a foundation that could extend well beyond the prime years of Saquon Barkley‘s career?

In answering that question, consider the list of running backs who were drafted by the Giants after Michael Strahan arrived and who left the team before Strahan retired: Ron Dayne (first round, 2000); Joe Montgomery (second round, 1999); Sean Bennett (fourth round, 1999); Tiki Barber (second round, 1997); Tyrone Wheatley (first round, 1995); and Gary Downs (third round, 1994).

From @CPruenca: “Are you hearing anything regarding Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory reinstatements?”

Not a word, and that’s no surprise.

Although many view the new substance-abuse policy as relaxing dramatically the standards for the reinstatement of players who previously were suspended indefinitely by the league, it has no impact at all on the status of players like Smith, Gregory, Josh Gordon, Martavis Bryant, David Irving, etc. They’re still suspended, the Commissioner still has full discretion when deciding whether to reinstate them, and the Commissioner has no deadline for making a decision on their reinstatement applications.

For Smith, the fact that his latest suspension arose from DUI and hit-and-run charges makes his situation much different than players who simply had failed too many marijuana tests. Some think, however, that the Cowboys wouldn’t have made the move if they don’t know something.

If they do, they’re the only ones.

From @djgingerale: “What movie did you end up watching with your wife last night?”

We watched Plus One on Hulu, at the recommendation of one of the many folks who responded to the question on Twitter (some of the responses were as entertaining as the movie). I’d never heard of it. Starring Jack Quaid (son of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan) and Maya Erskine (who was at times hilarious), it’s worth your 99 minutes if you’re looking for something light and funny — although I’ll admit that someone brought a blender to the TV room, jammed three onions on it, and pressed the “frappe” button during one specific scene between Quaid and Ed Begley Jr., who plays Quaid’s father in the movie.

From @leepers500: “Suppose an antibody test is developed and used to test players along with a virus test, temperature checks and quarantines. Then the system fails and players fall sick, with perhaps very serious consequences. Since the CBA has been passed, does the NFL bear the liability?”

The CBA won’t matter at that point, because however the 2020 season plays out will be the product of a specific and precise negotiation between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, like those that resulted in the parameters of the virtual offseason program. And, unfortunately for the league and the union, it seems as if every answer to every question triggers another 20 questions.

Surely, whoever chooses to play (and the final agreement between league and union hopefully will give players a chance to opt out without financial penalty beyond lost salary) will at some point be assuming all associated risks. And, given the size of some of the players, there will be very real risks to assume.

Plenty of offensive linemen and defensive tackles aren’t just obese, they’re morbidly obese. And they will be at enhanced risk of a serious health consequence, especially if they have high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes or other conditions that morbid obesity can cause.

As one league source opined recently, if only one football player dies from COVID-19 that he may have caught at work, the NFL likely will have no choice but to shut down indefinitely. That’s why it will be critical to identify a clear and effective system for keeping the virus out of locker rooms, and for getting the union and anyone who chooses to play to sign off unconditionally on the plan. Without both of those things, there can be no NFL football in 2020.

I realize that plenty of people may not want to hear that, but we can either deal with hard truths now or we can delude ourselves into the summer months and deal with the hard truths later. Having the best possible plans in place for a 2020 football season demands that the NFL and the NFLPA embrace the former.

Players finally have a path for earning workout bonuses

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With plenty of veteran players having hundreds of thousands of dollars tied to offseason workout bonuses, the players needed to know whether and how they can earn those bonuses.

They now do. The rules of the virtual offseason program expressly address the ability of players to earn workout bonuses via compliance with the stay-at-home sessions.

“[I]f a Club elects to conduct any portion of an offseason workout program, virtual or otherwise, then the specified participation requirement (e.g., 75%, a stated number of workout days, etc.) applicable to any contract term contained in a player’s contract that is contingent upon the player’s participation in the Club’s offseason workout program (e.g., offseason workout bonus, Salary escalator, Salary de-escalator) will be based upon the Club’s total number of completed offseason workouts (virtual or otherwise),” the league’s Management Council explained in the memo to all teams dated April 13, 2020.

In other words, the player will be required to participate in the specified percentage of the total number of offseason workouts, virtual and in-person, that the team eventually conducts.

“For example, if a player’s contract includes a $90,000 offseason workout bonus that is contingent upon the player participating in 75% or 24 of a Club’s 32 offseason workouts, but the Club completes only 24 workouts during its program, and the player participates in 18 of the Club’s 24 completed workouts, then the player will be paid $90,000 upon completion of the offseason program,” the memo explains.

The example is a little bizarre, because as one source explained it to PFT no team uses a percentage as low as 75 percent for compliance. Most workout bonuses require 90-percent participation. Thus, the fewer the number of workouts, the smaller the margin for error from missing a day here or there.

For example, if a team has 32 workouts, a player with a 90-percent threshold can miss three sessions. If a team has fewer than 30 sessions, he can miss only two. If a team has fewer than 20 sessions, he can miss only one.

And this applies both to workout bonuses and salary escalators/de-escalators. Players whose base pay rises or falls due to offseason compliance need to be sure to participate in the minimum amount, or they’ll see the consequences in their weekly game checks.

So what happens if a team has no offseason program at all? From the memo: “[T]he parties reserve their rights as to whether or not a player contract bonus contingent on participation in an offseason workout program is earned if a Club does not conduct any offseason program at all.”

In other words, the league and the union will cross that bridge if they ever come to it. They likely won’t, because it’s hard to imagine no team taking advantage of the opportunity to conduct the virtual training program.

Which running backs are up next for new contracts?

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With the Panthers giving running back Christian McCaffrey a four-year, $64 million extension after three NFL seasons, which running backs are up next for long-term deals?

Glad you asked. Even if you didn’t.

Titans running back Derrick Henry leads the list. With four seasons under his belt and currently limited by the franchise tag, Henry will make $10.278 million in 2020 absent a long-term contract. The deadline for a multi-year extension is July 15; otherwise, Henry (who has signed his tender) will play for $10.278 million this year, and he’ll be in line for a second tag at a 20-percent bump in 2021, which amounts to $12.336 million.

Will the Titans give him a long-term deal? That remains to be seen.

Ditto for Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake, who’ll make $8.48 million under the transition tag in 2020. Will the Cardinals sign him before July 15, or is he on a year-to-year arrangement as the Cardinals squeeze every ounce of value of out him before letting him hit the market next season, or tagging him again at a 20-percent bump ($10.176 million)?

Still operating under their rookie contracts are a pair of high-end tailbacks who are a year away from the open market or a tag: Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and Saints running back Alvin Kamara. Both want, and deserve, new contracts. With McCaffrey setting the market at $16 million per year in new money, will either or both try to one-up McCaffrey, or will his deal be the ceiling?

McCaffrey has performed at a higher level than both, generating a rare offensive production (he’s only the third 1,000/1,000 running back) while also being available consistently. Cook has missed 19 games in three years; McCaffrey hasn’t missed one. Kamara has played in 45 of 48 regular-season games, but his numbers pale in comparison to McCaffrey’s — largely because the Saints don’t use Kamara the way the Panthers use McCaffrey.

Still, McCaffrey has averaged 5.87 yards per touch in three seasons. Kamara averages 5.82.

Packers running back Aaron Jones entered the conversation regarding the best in the game last season, with more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage and some MVP support from his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Jones also has in 2020 a contract year, at a $2.1 million salary.

Bengals running back Joe Mixon likewise is on deck for a new deal after three seasons, with one left on his rookie contract. He has generated far fewer total yards than McCaffrey or Kamara, and Mixon averages 4.74 yards per touch, more than one yard less than either of them. (Cook averages 5.37 yards per touch, and he became the nucleus of the Minnesota offense in 2019, with more than 300 total touches and more than 1,650 yards from scrimmage.)

Colts running back Marlon Mack has a year left on his rookie deal, too. He had nearly 1,100 rushing yards in 14 games, and the Colts like him — especially given his contract. Do they like him enough to pay him, or will G.M. Chris Ballard eventually find someone to replace Mack?

Also entering a contract year is Steelers running back James Conner, who regressed in 2019 due to injury and the absence of great players around him, especially at quarterback. Before Conner can get paid, he’ll need to re-establish himself — and he may have to first win the starting job in Pittsburgh all over again.

Others who are lurching toward new contracts include Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, whose fifth-year option is due to be exercised, or not, next month. He’s been a disappointment relative to his status as the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft, but he fairly quietly had a 1,674 yards from scrimmage in 2019.

Next come the likes of Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Browns running back Nick Chubb, and Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones, who will be eligible for new deals after 2020, along Broncos running back Philip Lindsay, an undrafted free agent in 2018 who will be a restricted free agent next year. After a strong rookie season, Lindsay was less effective in 2019, and the recent arrival of Melvin Gordon on a market-level deal raises questions about Lindsay’s long-term value to the Broncos.

And don’t forget Seahawks running back Chris Carson. A late-round pick in 2017, Carson had nearly 1,500 yards from scrimmage last year before suffering a season-ending hip injury in Week 16. He enters a contract year in Seattle.

The wild-card is Patriots running back Sony Michel. The first rounder embarks on his third season after racking up more than 900 yards in each of his first two seasons. But the Patriots never give big money to running backs, and coach Bill Belichick may be content to squat on Michel for three more years, to make a team-friendly offer in 2022, and to let Michel walk away if he won’t take it.

And so not all of these tailbacks will get second contracts. A small handful will get eye-popping money. Many teams are content to simply chew up and spit out a young tailback, letting him chase a payday elsewhere while replacing him with another young player with full tread on the tires.

FMIA: 2020 Draft Rounds Into Focus; NFL People Show Lives In Quarantine

NFL draft rumors
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Ten days till the strangest draft in NFL history kicks off, and there’s some interesting news coming later in the column. (For instance: Roger Goodell will announce the first-round picks from his basement in Westchester County, N.Y.) But for the first time this crazy spring, let’s focus on round one of the NFL draft rumors, [more]

One month later, sports remain shut down

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Yes, it was only one month ago today that the NBA suspended play following the positive coronavirus test of Rudy Gobert, triggering an avalanche of sports cancellations that has resulted in a 31-day wasteland consisting merely of NFL free agency, one (and only one) UFC event, and a smattering of pro wrestling. So where are we when it comes to returning to the field, the court, the rink, the wherever?

NBA.

An idea has percolated regarding a reconvening of the league and a completion of the season in a single city, like Las Vegas. With each passing day, however, players are getting farther out of playing shape, sparking concerns that up to a month would be necessary to get them ready to go.

With no obvious date for beginning an in-season preseason and up to a month needed to prepare players to compete, at some point it will simply make sense to pull the plug on 2019-20 and focus on preparations and strategies for having a 2020-21 season.

NHL.

The NHL would like to find a way to conclude its regular season and conduct a postseason. Hockey shut down with 189 regular-season games remaining.

On Friday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN that cities throughout North America have expressed interest in hosting neutral-site postseason games, from Grand Forks, North Dakota to Manchester, New Hampshire to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

“We do have people putting together the comprehensive laundry list of what we would need from facilities and evaluating some facilities on some level,” Daly told ESPN. “But I can’t tell you we’ve even finished creating a list [of potential sites], much less narrowed it down.”

As with the NBA, players will need to get themselves back in shape. As with the NBA, a practical deadline surely exists for abandoning 2019-20 and turning to 2020-21.

MLB.

Baseball has been kicking around the possibility of taking all 30 teams to Arizona and starting the season, presumably staying there until the world returns at least to semi-normal. Players understandably are leery about the prospect of being separated from their families for an extended period of time.

Of course, players without families would have fewer qualms about the Camp Baseball concept. And players with families could be replaced by minor leaguers, since the lower levels of the sport will be shut down if fans can’t attend, given the absence of revenue sources other than ticket sales.

NCAA.

The fate of college football could become a microcosm of the broader American political divide. Coaches like Mullet Mike Gundy will insist on trying to play. Administrators will struggle to justify shutting down campuses to everyone but the football team.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby recently addressed the dynamics of the situation.

“Virtually every program is highly reliant on football revenue,” Bowlsby told ESPN. “We’re making lots of contingency plans, but if you don’t get the anticipated number of games in, you lose the donations, you lose the sponsorships, you lose the gate receipts and you lose the TV. It’s potentially very impactful.”

As previously noted, schools at some point will have to drop the student-athlete facade if efforts to play on-campus football become more focused and determined and successful than efforts to hold on-campus classes. Given the money that the schools will be losing, many won’t hesitate to abandon the ruse and admit that football players constitute cogs in a gigantic money-printing machine.

Much like the inconsistent way the various states have implemented (or not) stay at home orders, don’t be surprised if some schools and/or conferences decide to bail on football for 2020 while other schools and/or conferences (specifically the most profitable ones) do all they can to find a way to play.

NFL.

Pro football didn’t flinch in the face of the pandemic, trudging forward with free agency despite glitches that still linger nearly a month later. Plenty of players haven’t been able to take physicals, and in turn haven’t been able to finalize their contracts. Some necessarily will be at risk of eventually having their tentative deals yanked if their new teams have a younger and cheaper option fall into their laps during the draft.

As to the draft, the league also hasn’t flinched, despite what will be a dramatic adjustment to the process. After the stay-at-home draft, then what?

There likely will be no offseason programs, as the NFL and NFL Players Association continue to try to come up with a plan for allowing players to earn workout bonuses by working out at home. At some point, the NFL’s “we plan to play” mantra will have to yield to a more pragmatic approach: We’ll have a plan for whatever may happen.

Those plans, for all sports, must include the possibility of not playing at all. If no feasible alternative can be identified based on a virus that will set the timeline as to when reality returns, the only realistic option will be to continue to wait.

For the virus to run its course. For widespread antibody testing that will determine the people who already have had the virus. For a vaccine. For a cure.

As to all sports, events well beyond the field, the court, the rink, the wherever will determine whenever the time is right for sports to return.

Tom Brady is first QB to make two all-decade teams

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Add another accomplishment to Tom Brady‘s legendary career: First quarterback ever named to two all-decade teams.

Brady was a unanimous choice for the 2010s all-decade team, which was his second honor after also making the 2000s all-decade team.

Among those joining Brady on both the 2010s all-decade team and the 2000s all-decade team were Bill Belichick, Julius Peppers, Devin Hester and Shane Lechler.

Chosen to both the 1990s and 2000s all-decade teams were Willie Roaf, Larry Allen and Warren Sapp.

Chosen to both the 1980s and 1990s all-decade teams were Morten Andersen, Gary Anderson, Sean Landeta, Ronnie Lott, Gary Zimmerman, Jerry Rice, Bruce Smith and Reggie White.

Chosen to both the 1970s and 1980s all-decade teams were Walter Payton, John Hannah, Mike Webster, Ted Hendricks, Jack Lambert, Billy Johnson Rick Upchurch and Chuck Noll.

Chosen to both the 1960s and 1970s all-decade teams were Dick Butkus, Bob Lilly, Merlin Olsen, Larry Wilson and Jim Bakken.

Making two all-decade teams is an impressive achievement — and particularly for Brady, doing it at the sport’s most important position.

FMIA: Amidst Stunning 2020 Draft Possibilities, How One NFL Team Cuts Through The Mayhem To Get Ready

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The draft continues to be a moving target in plans by the NFL, but with the first round 17 days away, a very different 2020 NFL Draft is taking shape. What I know this morning: • Momentum is building for ESPN and NFL Network to do a combined draft telecast. Over the weekend I spoke with [more]

PFT Sunday mailbag

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Last Sunday, we trotted out on an experimental basis a Sunday mailbag. Making it easier to handle was the fact that there wasn’t much mail in it.

Apparently, you liked it. Because this week the damn thing is overflowing.

Still, the rules are the rules. No matter how many questions are submitted, the best 10 get answered here.

That said, at least one question that was asked this week was so good — and the answer that I dug up was so intriguing — that it will get its own separate post later today.

Until then, here we go.

From @Sdchattanooga: Who is the #Colts QB of the future? #NFLDraft2020

Good question. We don’t know, and they don’t know. Philip Rivers was signed to be a one-year bridge while they figure it out. That’s possibly one of the reasons the Colts didn’t pursue Tom Brady, who intends to play for at least two more years.

So the Colts will know, and the rest of us will know, who their quarterback of the future will be in the future. Whoever it is, he’s not on the roster now.

For @Trae3boy: Will we have football in September?

No one knows at this point, and anyone who acts like they know is either foolish or lying, or both.

There are good reasons to remain deliberately foolish or to lie about it. The NFL wants fans to be engaged in the offseason. If the NFL starts talking seriously about the possibility of no 2020 season, who cares about the draft? Who cares about the schedule release?

Of course, that kind of talk didn’t bother the NFL in 2011, but only because the threat of no football meshed with the league’s financial objectives. The league was trying to squeeze the union into a new CBA, and the league regarded the vague threat of no football as a necessary evil, especially since the league had done a nice job of positioning the fans and the media to blame the players for no football, if no football happened.

I believe that the NFL will do everything in its power to have football this year, even if it happens in empty stadiums or with a much smaller crowd than usual. I also believe that high school and college football will not happen, which will give the NFL a way to make back some of its lost ticket revenue by televising games on Friday nights and throughout the day on Saturday, every week, if the NFL chooses to do that.

Consider this one for a moment. Instead of having five broadcast windows per week, the NFL could end up with nine: Thursday night, Friday night, three on Saturday, three on Sunday, and Monday night.

That could nearly double the TV revenue for 2020, and the ratings would skyrocket, since there would be no other football to watch. And that makes the stakes even higher for the NFL to find a way to play its games, in empty stadiums or in practice facilities or on the island where Fyre Fest was supposed to happen.

Sure, the league will at some point claim that it’s playing its games in the fulfillment of some sort of national duty. And that’s true. The deeper reality, however, is that many billions of dollars will be on the line.

From @Dirtbag1327: With the imminent decrease or nonexistence of training camps, will off-script offenses with mobile QBs have a distinct advantage?

Yes and no. To the extent that execution of the called play won’t be as crisp as it could or should be, a guy like Patrick Mahomes who can improvise will benefit from that. However, the improvisation needs reps as well, so that receivers will have an idea regarding where to go and what to do when the play moves onto the “just get open” phase.

Teams like the Chiefs will benefit from keeping their offensive nucleus together, a dynamic cemented by the recent one-year deal with Demarcus Robinson and the pay cut accepted by Sammy Watkins.

Also, with defenses likewise struggling to get up to speed absent full and normal preparations, plenty of teams (especially those with continuity on offense) will be able to get more out of the play that’s called, without having to rely on a second-phase fire drill.

That said, off-script offenses with mobile quarterbacks already have a distinct advantage. Which is why more and more teams are looking for that kind of quarterback.

From @TeGentzler14: What are the chances #tommy never takes a snap with the Bucs?

Very slim. He has said many times he plans to play until through 2022, the year he turns 45. Football definitely will be back by then, and there’s no reason to think he won’t play for the Bucs at some point in the next three years.

From @bigknuterockne: If you could take one player out of the HOF who would it be?

My family went to the Hall of Fame in 2005. My son was nine. As we walked through the room with the busts and I was sharing little tidbits with him about some of the players, we approached one and I made sure we just kept going.

O.J. Simpson.

Many Hall of Fame voters have more than a little OCD when it comes to adhering to the bylaws, even though the bylaws routinely are overlooked in order to enshrine or exclude certain players. Given the things Simpson did after his playing career, his bust should be removed, and if the bylaws need to change to make it happen, so be it.

I realize the precedent that sets. I understand there’s potentially a fine line between who stays and who goes based on post-career misconduct. Wherever the line may be, a double-murderer (as determined by a civil court in California) is on the wrong side of it.

From @MarkTrocinski: Are there any free agents that you are surprised are still available?

I’m very surprised cornerback Logan Ryan has yet to sign a new deal. Some were suggesting at one point last season that he should receive consideration for defensive player of the year. He had four forced fumbles, four interceptions, 4.5 sacks, and 18 passes defensed. (He also applied the last nail in Tom Brady’s New England career, with a late-game pick six during the playoffs.)

One problem could be Ryan’s versatility. He’s very good at a lot of things but not off-the-charts great at any specific thing. A year after Tyrann Mathieu got $14 million as a safety who does a lot of things, teams apparently don’t know how to value a cornerback who does a lot of things.

Three years ago, Ryan signed with the Titans for three years, $30 million. Coming off arguably his best season and still not 30 years old, even more should have been available, especially with Bradley Roby getting $36 million for three years to stay in Houston.

All Ryan can do at this point is wait, possibly in time signing a one-year deal and hitting the market again next year.

From @HowellDaniels: What’s your guilty pleasure go-to snack in the quarantine doldrums?

The miniature Reese’s Cups in gold foil. Frozen.

From @HowellDaniels: I realize Simms came recommended, but how did you find your writing staff?

Simms wasn’t necessarily “recommended”; he auditioned along with many others for the co-hosting gig on PFT Live. NBC made the final call, and in hindsight NBC made the right decision.

We have a very small writing staff and, over the years, we’ve had limited turnover. MDS was our first hire ever, years before NBC. Josh Alper was an early hire as well. Both ended up working for AOL’s Fanhouse, and both returned. Darin Gantt, a Hall of Fame voter who spent 14 years covering the Panthers, happened to be available when Gregg Rosenthal left NBC for NFL.com.

A few years ago, we were looking for a part-time day-shift writer, and we keep looking and looking and none of the options felt right. Then, out of the blue, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had a round of layoffs, Charean Williams became available, and we pounced. She started on a part-time basis and is now a full-time member of the team. In addition to being a Hall of Fame voter and a past president of the Pro Football Writers Association, Charean had a vote on the all-time 100th anniversary team and the 15-person special Hall of Fame class of 2020.

Curtis Crabtree has been manning the overnight window at PFT for several years from Seattle, where he also works for KJR radio. With a crew of five full-time writers and one part-timer, we end up having coverage 20-21 hours on most days.

Maybe it’s because we don’t work in the same place, but everyone gets along incredibly well. The incidents or issues or problems are very few and very far between, and the fact that we have so few departures (and in turn so few openings) means that we’re doing something right, I hope.

From @ujayha11: Where do you think Cam and Jameis will go?

Cam should go to the Chargers, because the Chargers should be falling all over themselves to get him. If not the Chargers, the Dolphins, Raiders, and Patriots should at least give the possibility consideration. The biggest impediment for Cam continues to be the inability to give him a normal physical, given his foot, shoulder, and ankle issues.

Jameis is a much different story. He threw for 5,109 yards last year, but no one wants him to be their starter. And he’s likely still coming to grips with the fact that, at least for now, his days as a starter are over.

So will he become a backup in 2020? His mindset will be critical, because most teams want a backup who is content to be a backup and help the starter. Winston’s attitude may be that he’s going to try to topple the starter, so screw him. (Some teams want a backup like that, too.)

It could be that teams are waiting to pursue Jameis in order to allow him to come to grips that, wherever he lands, he’s not getting anything close to the $20 million he received in 2019 under his fifth-year option.

Winston’s best play could be to wait for someone to get injured. At that point, however, the team in question may be more inclined to go with the next man up in lieu of getting Winston up to speed. If (and I’m reluctant to say this lest I eventually be accused of applying a jinx) Tom Brady gets injured, a Winston return to Tampa makes a ton of sense.

Then there’s the baseball angle. Last August, he told Peter King that it’s something Winston still wants to do. If he’ll be on a football team but not playing, maybe he’ll finally decide to give baseball a try.

From @realEdwardMason: What new statistic would you like to see added to the official stats sheet?

This is a Chris Simms idea, and unlike his usual ideas it’s a great one.

For defensive linemen, the only stats that matter are tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, and forced fumbles. The best defensive linemen affect the game without doing any of those things, however. Specifically, they affect the game by f–king up a play.

So that’s the stat. The “eff up the play” stat. A stat that’s triggered when a defensive lineman’s burst through the offensive line irrevocably disrupts the intended attack, even if someone else gets the tackle or the tackle for loss or the sack or the forced fumble.

It wouldn’t be simple to tabulate, and it would require a keen eye and some subjectivity. But it ultimately could be spotted and tracked, and it would give the players who are the most disruptive in the league some hard evidence of the manner in which they disrupt things.

From Dragyn509: Do you think Carole Baskin killed her husband?

This is a bonus question, and for anyone who hasn’t watched The Tiger King and who plans to (is there anyone left in that category?), spoilers follow.

To be clear (i.e., I don’t want to be sued), this is an expression of opinion, as influenced by the information presented by the producers of the show and the specific manner in which the information was presented. “Documentary” hardly means “factual,” and there are easy devices for using video, words, and music to lead the audience to a desired conclusion.

So based on the way that show was put together, I came to the conclusion that, yes, Carole Baskin killed her husband and fed him to her tigers. And that’s probably the conclusion the producers wanted me and everyone else to come to.

Without getting into too many details (including the suspicious living will that gave Carole Baskin the right to handle her husband’s estate in the event of his “disability or disappearance“), she wasn’t indignant or upset about the suggestion that she killed her husband and fed him to her tigers. Maybe over the years she’s become desensitized to the accusation, but her husband died and to make matters worse she’s been accused of killing him and feeding him to her tigers! A normal person who is innocent would yell and scream and rant and rave every time the topic comes up.

But one thing is clear about The Tiger King: During the seven-episode limited series, normal persons are very few and very far between.

Nepotism or not, Steve Belichick rises in the coaching ranks

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Nepotism is as much a part of the NFL as is the league’s ubiquitous shield. And the franchise that has dominated the NFL for much of the past two decades has a clear and obvious nepotism situation playing out in plain sight.

Steve Belichick, the 32-year-old son of legendary Patriots coach Bill Belichick, has emerged as one of the team’s most important assistant coaches in recent years, prompting some to wonder whether Steve Belichick and not Josh McDaniels will become the eventual in-house heir to Bill. Henry McKenna of USA Today recently took a close look at the younger Belichick, including the obvious questions raised when a son of a coach is perceived to receive unfair advantages in an industry that is commonly criticized for lacking diversity.

It’s a tricky and sensitive subject, as evidenced by the fact that the usually tight-lipped Bill Belichick actually provided a statement to McKenna via email for the story.

“There are many father/son coaching combinations in the NFL and any challenges are far outweighed by the rewards of working together on a daily basis,” Bill Belichick said regarding whether he’s hard on Steve in order to ensure that his success has no relation to their close family relationship.

Nepotism has taken root in the NFL for three primary reasons. First, many teams operated as family-owned businesses. For owners who intend to groom one or more of their children to eventually take the reins, there’s an element of hypocrisy that creeps into the prospect of telling coaches that they can’t hire their own kids. Second, many coaches had little or no involvement in the upbringing of their children, because the coaches were constantly working. Once the children become adults, coaches make up for those cats-in-the-cradle days, with fathers and sons pressed together for many, many hours while grinding away at the many demands of running an NFL team. Third, there’s real value in giving NFL jobs to those who grew up in and around NFL teams.

Earlier this year, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan explained the benefit of being around the game as a boy. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, Kyle benefited from the fact that his father, Mike, spent Kyle’s formative years in the NFL as a coach. The experience resulted in Kyle being even better suited to becoming a head coach in his own right.

As to Steve Belichick (or any other child of an NFL coach), he’ll eventually have to prove that he has the chops and the work ethic to stand on his own. Already, Steve Belichick is doing that.

“He’s a guy that works 20 hours of the day and 350 days of the year,” first-year Giants coach and former Patriots assistant Joe Judge told McKenna.

“I think it’s tougher for Steve in a lot of ways, because he’s always got to prove that he’s earned it,” Judge added. “Over time, if you can’t demonstrate that you belong in that building, you’re the sore thumb sticking out. And he’s showed time and time again that he’s prepared, he’s very good with the players, he’s got the great, global view of the game, he does a good job schematically. You have to demonstrate value in front of everyone all the time. That’s the thing about that building — and our profession in general — there’s no hiding.”

Judge provided a specific example regarding the abilities Steve Belichick has developed.

“Maybe you’ll be watching tape or doing something in a staff meeting, and he’ll just lean over and whisper something to you, and it’s so insightful, and you kind of have to think, ‘Man, how come I didn’t see that earlier?’” Judge said. “He doesn’t want any credit. Steve’s one of the best guys personnel-wise in understanding how to use guys’ strengths. He’ll stick his head in your office, and maybe he’ll notice what a certain guy is doing and say, ‘Have you thought about using so-and-so on kickoff?’ And he’ll cite [that player’s] skill set on defense and show how it might work on special teams.”

None of this will change the perception that Steve Belichick’s opportunities arise more from his name than his nature. And that perception surely will fuel Steve Belichick as he continues to thrive, perhaps to the point where, after winning a Super Bowl or two as a head coach, Steve won’t be known as Bill’s son but Bill will be known as Steve’s dad.

FMIA: NFL Life At A Social Distance, and How The 2020 Draft Might Look

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NFL life, March 30, 2020: THE DRAFT The other day, I was told that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could kick off the 2020 NFL Draft in 24 days from a remote-controlled camera in his home in Bronxville, N.Y., a village 15 miles north of NFL headquarters in Manhattan. But, a source with knowledge of draft-logistics [more]

PFT Sunday (and maybe only this Sunday) mailbag

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It’s been a long time since I’ve answered reader questions in this space. Answering questions has been, for several years, a facet of the PFT Live radio/TV show and the #PFTPM podcast. But without as much happening this weekend as ordinarily would be (today would be the first day of the annual league meetings, with plenty of quotes from owners about rule changes and other team and league matters), we asked for questions on Twitter. Some of you asked some questions, and the 10 best questions are answered below.

From @dcowboy777: Will the schedule still be released before the draft?

Peter King made the case on a recent edition of PFT Live for the schedule release to be delayed until May. (The video is attached.) Given these unique circumstances, it definitely makes sense to wait.

One of the best arguments for releasing the schedule as early as possible comes from the notion that fans who will be traveling to specific games need to know when those games will happen so that they can make arrangements for time off from work, travel, etc. But very few would be doing that this year, if the schedule is released in April.

The strategic argument for releasing the schedule before the draft comes from the possibility that draft selections will be influenced based on when, for example, a defense will be facing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. That’s a highly nuanced factor that becomes largely irrelevant during this year’s no-frills draft.

With so many variables regarding when and how and if the season can be played, it makes sense to wait. It’s unclear how long the wait should last; ultimately, it may be a “know it when you see it” proposition.

Here’s another reason to wait — with nothing else happening in the sports world, the schedule release could become a much more significant offseason tentpole event for the NFL, rather than something that currently serves as an appetizer to the draft. If it happens in the middle of May and if live sports still haven’t returned, the schedule release could be turned into a multi-evening event, which would generate significant viewership.

The league’s official position on the matter, as of Sunday morning, is that no decision has been made on when the schedule will be released. That could end up being the official position, for a while.

From @BourbonStSaints: What’s going to happen to the morning radio broadcast of PFT Live after NBC Sports Radio shuts down after Tuesday? I and many others listen during our morning commutes. I catch up at night with the podcasts, but what about the mornings?

For those of you who haven’t heard, Westwood One has decided to stop distributing NBC Sports Radio as of March 31. It was a sudden, out-of-the-blue decision that stunned many at NBC (including me).

The bad news is that, at least for now, the radio hour from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. ET will be suspended.

The good news is that PFT Live will continue, with two hours of fresh content from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. ET every weekday, re-aired from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. ET. Without a radio clock that includes more commercial time than TV (and a pair of hard breaks every hour), the TV show will have a much better flow, with fewer stops and starts.

Also, the audio feed of PFT Live will continue to be broadcast live on SiriusXM 211 and TuneIn. A podcast of the show will be posted every day.

As to podcasts, I’ve done fewer episodes of #PFTPM since Westwood One announced its decision to end NBC Sports Radio. Once the dust settles this week, there will be more episodes of #PFTPM, which can replace the 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. ET radio hour during your commute or your shower-shave-shampoo-shiitake-mushroom-omelette time every weekday morning.

The best news regarding PFT Live is coming, eventually. It will be an exciting new twist on how we’ve done things, and we’ll have more to share on that in the not-too-distant-future.

From @RedskinsRant: Why do you hate the Redskins?

Anyone who tries to cover the NFL in an honest, candid, and objective way gets this question from time to time about all 32 teams. They also get the reverse of the question for many teams; “Why do you love the [insert name of team you supposedly love]?”

Cris Collinsworth has faced that question over and over again throughout his broadcasting career. At one point, he decided to respond to the question of why he hates a given team by saying, “I just do.”

We understand that people follow their favorite teams with a high degree of passion and engagement, and that they are always looking for any indication from broadcasters, writers, and commentators as to whether they are “with us” or “against us.” Did so-and-so say something good about our team? Or did that rat bastard say something bad, again? It’s an intensely personal reaction, along the lines of someone saying something about someone’s mother or sister or father or whoever is related by blood or marriage.

The problem for certain teams arises from the fact that, because they seem to do everything wrong, honest, candid, and objective analysis results in far more bad things than good being said. The Washington franchise has, in recent years, owned that category.

Seriously, what has the organization done right since Robert Griffin III’s knee bent the wrong way during a January 2013 playoff game on FedEx Field dirt that had enough green paint to stain the shoes of those who walked on it? Hiring Ron Rivera and firing Bruce Allen are, by far, the best moves the team has made in seven years. So maybe there will be more praise coming, from me and from others.

None of that will persuade me to resume using a nickname that has become a dictionary-defined racial slur. Some Washington fans get very upset with me for choosing to respect the Native Americans who are genuinely offended by the term. Which makes me wonder whether those fans are trying to shout down not only me but also their own consciences.

From @mikebowman2: Why do you have an agenda against Joe Burrow being drafted by the Bengals?

I don’t. I have an agenda for smoking out agendas that may be hiding from plain view, which is a very common dynamic in the NFL.

I gave zero thought to Burrow potentially trying to avoid being drafted by the Bengals until Super Bowl week. Before that, Burrow had said he’ll gladly play for anyone who’s willing to pay him. Then came Carson Palmer, a former Bengals quarterback, blasting the Cincinnati franchise for not being committed to winning. Then came the news that Carson’s kid brother, Jordan, is helping Burrow get ready for the draft.

Then came Burrow, appearing on Dan Patrick’s show two days before the Super Bowl, revising Burrow’s prior position and saying he wants to be the No. 1 overall pick, but that he also wants to play for a team that is committed to winning. It was an alarming twist, one that carried the obvious influence of Carson to Jordan to Joe.

Burrow, I firmly believe, was toying at the time with the idea of making an Elway/Eli-style power play. Burrow, I firmly believe, decided based on the advice of his agents at CAA that Bengals owner Mike Brown would not flinch in the face of a threat or promise to sit out the season and re-enter the draft. Burrow, I firmly believe, decided not to pass on the four-year, fully-guaranteed contract worth more than $36 million that he’ll be offered by the Bengals.

If Burrow truly had hoped to be drafted by another team, the better move would have been to say all the right things publicly, to provide no one in the media with any meat for an argument that he hopes to not be drafted by the Bengals, and to craft and hatch a plan aimed at having Mike Brown come to the conclusion on his own that he wanted to do something other than draft Burrow. That didn’t happen in January or early February, and it’s far too late to try to make that happen now.

From @letsgomtnrs: Is there any chance the NFL plays the season in empty stadiums?

Everything is on the table for now; there’s no other way to approach this unprecedented challenge to planning and logistics. Still, the NFL needs to be proactive about identifying every potential “what if?” question and coming up with a plan for every possible permutation.

So, yes, it’s possible that games will be played in empty stadiums. It’s possible that some teams won’t be able to play in their home markets. It’s possible that no games will be played at all.

Theoretically, it’s possible that the NFL will build in the middle of nowhere a corona-free campus where all players, coaches, trainers, doctors, broadcasters, officials, etc. would spend the entire season sequestered from the rest of the world, with games played on a series of fields from which the games would be televised, with no one else present. (I haven’t heard that this is a possibility, but it’s one that the league definitely should be considering.)

For now, it’s too early to know what will happen. But it’s not too early for the NFL to begin identifying clear and firm plans for every potential twist and turn that could play out over the next several months.

Another one from @letsgomtnrs: If you were advising a college player would you recommend they choose an agent?

Absolutely. Even though the rookie wage scale limits dramatically the topics for negotiation after a player is picked (especially after the first 20 or so picks), a good agent will help a player be drafted as early as possible, by getting the player in the right pre-draft workout program (and paying for it) and by working his or her contacts within the league in an effort to make the player’s case for being picked higher than his peers and — perhaps more importantly — responding to negative campaigning from agents who represent other prospects.

For example, Lamar Jackson quite possibly lasted until pick No. 32 in 2018 because he didn’t have an agent to advocate for him aggressively and to push back against agents representing other quarterbacks and first-round prospects who were undoubtedly spewing Bill Polian-style nonsense to any potentially interest team about the 2019 NFL MVP.

On the flip side, the late Gary Wichard launched an aggressive, multi-week effort that somehow vaulted former NFL cornerback Pacman Jones over Antrel Rolle and Carlos Rogers in the first round of the 2005 draft, despite very real off-field concerns that quickly came to fruition once Jones made it to the NFL.

That’s what good agents do in the days and weeks before the draft. This year, that advocacy by agents who are respected and trusted by executives and coaches arguably will be more important than it’s ever been, since teams won’t have the benefit of in-person visits and private workouts and Pro Days.

From @BirnUnit: What would the NFL have done if the Super Bowl was scheduled for the weekend everything started shutting down?

That’s a great question, one that the NFL is surely grateful it never had to address.

Things moved very quickly during the early days of the realization that the coronavirus presented a serious threat to American public health. If the situation had begun to deteriorate during Super Bowl week, with teams and fans in South Florida, would the NFL have pulled the plug on the game?

What if the NBA and other leagues had suspended play two or three days before the Super Bowl?

While technically irrelevant, the NFL needs to be thinking about these issues given the possibility that the pandemic will exhibit peaks and valleys and more peaks and more valleys throughout the country in the coming months. What if, for example, Tampa emerges as a hot spot a couple of weeks before Super Bowl LV?

Although the NFL avoided the question of shutting down the premier American sporting event in 2020, the next one could be affected. It will be critical to have clear contingency plans in place, which would include moving the game to a non-hot spot on very short notice.

From @treetru: Since coaches are relatively underpaid could they strike?

Coaches have no union, so they can’t strike without blatantly violating their individual employment contracts. And coaches likely will never have a union, because any effort to unionize would result in any coaches who organize the effort being blackballed by the league.

There are too many capable football coaches and not enough football-coaching jobs in the NFL for NFL coaches to roll the dice with their careers. And some (many . . . most) owners won’t hesitate to throw someone overboard permanently and move on to the next candidate if/when a coach shows troublemaker tendencies.

To the extent that some coaches in a non-union setting believe (and some do) that the market for coaching salaries has been suppressed by collusion among teams, it’s theoretically possible that one or more will file an antitrust lawsuit. Again, however, the coach(es) who take a stand will be trading the exercise of their legal rights for the privilege of working in the NFL.

From @Fuss_Nation: What does the CBA say in terms of a season being cancelled? Do players earn game checks and do they earn years of service? How would the 2021 draft order be determined?

The NBA’s CBA includes a “force majeure” provision that specifically addresses the inability to play games due to war, epidemic, etc. The NFL’s CBA and the standard player contract do not, which fuels an argument that the players are entitled to be paid even if games aren’t played.

The NFL’s position (although the basis for it currently isn’t clear) possibly will be that, in the event there is no season, the players will not be entitled to payment of any kind. For some owners, the eventual resolution of the issue by a judge or an arbitrator could force them to take out hundred of millions in loans or sell their teams, if players are entitled to be paid even though games aren’t played.

As to the 2021 draft, the order would be the least of the concerns. If there’s no 2020 NFL season, there likewise will be no 2020 college football season. Which means that teams would be drafting players in 2021 with no game film since 2019.

From @NFLeeds: Do you think Bruce Arians and being away from Bill Belichick will eventually result in a more free talking Florida Tommy where he has fun actually says something when he talks?

No. Brady has had 20 years of the Patriot Way baked into his DNA, and the art/skill of talking without saying anything is something that he surely hopes will spread to his new teammates and coaches.

Over nearly half of his life, Brady has mastered the art of creating sound bites that are 99.9-percent obvious or disinteresting. It’s not something that he’ll be willing or able to unlearn in a year or two with the Buccaneers.

Take, for example, his introductory conference call as a member of the Buccaneers. Not a word of it was surprising or enlightening. Indeed, the most significant thing he said (in my view) is that he personally attended Joe Montana’s last home game with the 49ers.

It may end up being the most significant thing Brady says during his entire tenure in Tampa Bay.

Quarantines and Cheesesteaks: How Sean Payton’s Coping With Covid-19 During a Seismic Week of NFL Moves

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Sean Payton, coronavirus patient, self-quarantined in his house in New Orleans on Sunday night, ordered a cheesesteak for delivery from a favorite eatery. “I am blessed for many reasons,” the Saints coach said over the phone just after the food arrived. He sounded chipper. “Unfortunately, this disease hasn’t cost me my appetite.” The delivery people [more]

Roger Goodell’s full letter to NFL employees regarding COVID-19

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On Thursday, Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to all NFL employees regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times shared excerpts of it in his article regarding plans for the draft.

We’ve since obtained the full letter. We’ve decided to share all of it, both to underscore the gravity of the moment and hopefully to inspire everyone to do what needs to be done.

It’s worth reading the letter, if only for the Steve Gleason quote appearing near the bottom. Here’s the entire letter from Goodell to all NFL employees, unedited:

Dear NFL Family,

As we’ve all experienced, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected our communities around the world. The NFL family is no different and we are facing the same unprecedented challenges as our friends, families and neighbors. This involves all of us and we will get through it together.

Our primary concern is for the health and well-being of you and your families. We have a variety of resources to help and we encourage you to take advantage of them. You will find a wide range of advice from leading experts to help maintain your physical and mental health. If you are facing a difficult or unusual situation, please let your manager, or your HR liaison know so that we can try to get you the help you need.

I know it has not been easy balancing your personal and work lives.

But you have done that and I want to thank you for your tireless work and commitment to the NFL, our fans, players, clubs and partners. I am proud of what all of you have done over the past week and how you have proven that we can be productive in this difficult environment. This begins with caring for each other and over-communicating. You have identified issues and come up with creative solutions.

We are seeing the results of your hard work as we began our league year on schedule yesterday having concluded on Sunday a transformative CBA with our partners in the NFLPA, extending our partnership with our players through the 2030 season. We are hopefully providing our fans a small but welcomed respite from the critical matters at hand with some exciting football news and optimism about the upcoming season.

Keeping in mind our priority of protecting the health of our employees, the public and everyone associated with the NFL, we have made modifications to some of our offseason events, such as the NFL Draft. Planning for the Draft is a good example of how we will need to think differently, embrace technology and collaborate. We will also use the Draft to help support fans and those people impacted in our communities.

While there have been changes to the way we work and some of our plans, we have an unwavering commitment to upholding the NFL’s legacy of unifying and lifting the spirit of America, and bringing out the best in our fans and in our communities around the world. You’ll hear more from us in the days and weeks ahead about how we intend to demonstrate that commitment well beyond our fields. And I hope you’ll share your ideas on how we can do that.

I look no further than one of the NFL’s legendary players – Saints’ legend and advocate Steve Gleason – to provide us comfort and inspiration. Steve offered these thoughts in his acceptance speech at his Congressional Gold Medal ceremony which I was honored to attend in January:

“If we compassionately collaborate to solve problems, our human potential is boundless. If we can work to understand and solve each other’s problems, and each other’s pain compassionately, then, truly, all things are possible.”

We will get through these difficult days together and every one of you should be proud knowing that you have played an important role to help our world emerge stronger and more unified.

Thank you again and my best to you and your families.

Roger

Top 25 remaining free agents

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Of PFT’s original list of 100 free agents, NFL teams have tagged or agreed to terms with most. But teams have made moves since then. Here is our list of the top 25 free agents currently on the market:

1. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton

2. Seahawks edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney

3. Titans cornerback Logan Ryan

4. Vikings edge rusher Everson Griffen

5. Saints offensive guard Larry Warford

6. Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters

7. Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham

8. Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard

9. Giants linebacker Markus Golden

10. Packers cornerback Tramon Williams

11. Buccaneers offensive tackle Demar Dotson

12. Rams linebacker Clay Matthews

13. Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum

14. Falcons running back Devonta Freeman

15. Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson

16. Lions defensive tackle Damon Harrison

17. Lions defensive lineman Mike Daniels

18. Panthers safety Eric Reid

19. Dolphins safety Reshad Jones

20. Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus

21. Eagles defensive lineman Vinny Curry

22. Bears receiver Taylor Gabriel

23. Rams quarterback Blake Bortles

24. Cowboys defensive lineman Michael Bennett

25. Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick