The NFL will hold a fully virtual draft with team personnel separately located in their homes, commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo sent to all 32 clubs. The league will continue on a temporary hiatus after the draft, and team facilities will remain closed indefinitely in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Team facilities have been closed since March 26 and league offices closed on March 13.
Goodell cited the “stay-at-home” orders issued by the government as a reason for the facilities to remain closed, which include every NFL team‘s community. The league announced it will reopen facilities “when it is safe to do so” based on medical and public health advice, and in compliance with government mandates. It was decided last month that the 2020 NFL Draft would not be held in Las Vegas.
“Our staff will carry out its responsibilities in the same way, operating in several locations outside of our offices,” he said. “We cannot identify an alternative that is preferable from a medical or public health perspective, given the various needs of clubs, the need properly to screen participants, and the unique risk factors that individual club employees may face.”
The league holds offseason voluntary minicamps in May, and they are in jeopardy of not happening. Teams hold their mandatory minicamp in the middle of June, and the chances of those occurring is yet to be determined. While the facilities remain closed, the league is still conducting a plan how to proceed offseason workout activities. NFL coaches won’t be allowed to communicate with players via videoconferencing at the moment, as phase one of voluntary offseason workouts were delayed a week. The five teams with new head coaches were scheduled to start their offseason workout programs Monday.
“Our understanding is that many clubs are already well advanced in preparing for a virtual draft and we are confident that all clubs can take the necessary steps to make the 2020 draft a successful event,” Goodell said.