NFL doctors won’t perform physicals during COVID-19 outbreak. What does it mean for free agents?
In a letter obtained by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport this week, the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) said that it would halt all physicals during the nationwide outbreak of COVID-19, a strain of the coronavirus. The letter, which was written by NFLPS president and Washington team physician Dr. Anthony Casolaro, said that the halt of physicals would last “until the health crisis has passed.” He continued: “At a time of the most serious pandemic in our lifetime, we believe medical resources should focus on those who are ill or in need of care.” While the decision absolutely seems prudent, it will have ramifications for the NFL offseason. Many free agent and rookie contracts are contingent on the athlete passing a physical by a team physician. With those physicals halted, it’s unclear how many of the contracts can be enacted. Some teams are getting creative, however. The NFL has allowed teams to conduct physicals through an independent physician, which is what Tom Brady did with the Buccaneers. (This also explains why many teams haven’t officially been announcing free agency signings yet, instead using “reports” in their own announcements — without physicals, the deals aren’t official yet.)