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The NFL just canceled its annual meeting because of COVID-19, but what’s next?

The pandemic has already caused the NBA and NHL to suspend their seasons, and something similar could be ahead for the NFL.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Super Bowl Press Conference Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

COVID-19 arrived in the United States a while ago. The consequences of that arrival, it seems, took longer to manifest.

In the past few days, we’ve seen the NBA and NHL suspend their seasons, and it appears that March Madness is on shaky footing at best with multiple teams pulling out of competing. Major League Baseball’s season is right around the corner and at risk, and they’ve suspended Spring Training and elected to push back the start of the season at least two weeks. The leagues have largely decided, smartly if belatedly, that sports need to take a backseat to prevention now that there are over 125,000 global cases and over 4,500 deaths from the coronavirus.

Then there’s the NFL, the only league with months to go until its season opener. That keeps the league from having to make an immediate decision about the season, but there are many events large and small on the league calendar in the coming weeks, ranging from free agent visits with teams to the NFL Draft. What will the league do?

We don’t know. What we do know is that the league is canceling its annual meeting as of yesterday, choosing to push anything pressing from the agenda for that into the spring meeting in May.

From there, then what? The simple answer is that we don’t know. Team facilities are shutting down—notably, the Falcons among them—and prospect and free agent visits are going to be tough in light of that. Will they, like many of us office drones, wind up doing remote interviews and meetings? Will they lobby hard for everything to be pushed back to give them more time and a fighting chance at meeting with players they want to bring on board, even if there are no guaranteed timelines with this virus? Clarity should be coming soon—we’re less than a week away from the start of free agency—but right now I’d anticipate the NFL trying to push through this and keep the NFL Draft on track, albeit perhaps not in front of a live audience.

When the announcement does come from the NFL, one way or the other, we’ll have you covered. If it comes down to the season being postponed or canceled, we’ll be asking you the kinds of content you’d most like to see to fill those empty days, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Our only hope at the moment is that the world is able to slow the spread of the virus and that as few people are inflicted with the disease as possible.