In response to the growing number of positive COVID-19 tests around the league, the NFL is taking action. In a call with all 32 teams the league office laid out a slew of new policy changes, and sternly warned teams about the consequences of not following them.
In the memo recapping the call, which you can read courtesy of this tweet from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, they laid out some new protocols. The NFL and NFLPA jointly agreed to a “longer onboarding process” for free agent workouts, bans on gatherings outside the team facility, limits on the number of tryouts allowed per week, and the implementation of a “league-wide video monitoring system” to ensure teams are wearing masks and following protocols within their own buildings.
Details were sparse, but it sounds like Roger Goodell will now be watching what is going on within each facility. The line about gatherings outside the facility may have been directed toward the Raiders, who were just slapped with more fines after players were photographed mask-less at a fundraiser hosted by tight end Darren Waller. Waller was fined $30K for the incident, while Derek Carr, Derek Carrier, Zay Jones, Nevin Lawson, Erik Magnuson, Foster Moreau, Nathan Peterman, Hunter Renfrow, and Jason Witten were each fined $15K, according to a tweet from Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.
We just got word earlier that the Raiders had been fined $50K after an investigation into unauthorized locker room access, and the team and head coach Jon Gruden were fined hundreds of thousands for mask violations in Week 2.
Perhaps most significantly, the memo outlines potential extreme punishments for new violations. The memo says that any team that has a COVID-19 protocol violation which results in spreading of the virus that impacts scheduling or other teams may be subject to the loss of draft picks or potential forfeitures of games.
Forfeiting a game would be a truly nuclear option, and the fact that it was even broached shows how serious the league is taking threats to the rest of the season. That would seem to apply to a team like the Titans, which had a true outbreak which has caused the only actual postponement to date. The new free agent workout restrictions could make it harder for veterans on the market to find jobs. This surely isn’t the last we’ve heard on the subject, and we’ll keep you posted whenever anything new comes along.