The Jets and Giants both pulled their coaches and scouts off the road on Thursday, due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
And there are even bigger changes likely to come.
This was the first logical step, though, with coaches, scouts, and front office personnel spread out across the country, attending Pro Days at various colleges in preparation for the NFL draft. Sources for both teams said they were taking that action for the foreseeable future and were awaiting more instructions from the league.
One source added that many of those Pro Days were likely to be cancelled anyway, with most NFL teams expected to take similar action by the end of the day. The Redskins also announced they were bringing their coaches and scouts home, and reportedly the Eagles, Steelers, Saints, and Chiefs were doing the same.
Meanwhile, the NFL has scheduled a conference call for Thursday afternoon to discuss the coronavirus situation and the league's plans with officials from the 32 teams, a source confirmed. The league is expected to provide some guidance about what teams should do next. It is possible, the source said, the NFL will recommend shutting down team facilities for several weeks -- a move that could delay the start of free agency, which was set to open with a negotiating window on Monday.
Closing facilities could also cause changes to the start of the teams' offseason workout programs. The Giants' program is scheduled to begin on April 6. The Jets' program is scheduled to open on April 20.
The NFL owners' meetings, which were scheduled for March 29 - April 1, are cancelled. The league was also considering some other major changes in plans, according to the Washington Post. On the table, according to the report, were contingency plans for the NFL Draft (April 23-25). One league source said he believed that while the draft would likely go on, it could end up on a smaller, less public scale.
Adding to the problems were the fear of many NFL agents, who were getting ready to send their clients on both free-agent and pre-draft visits to teams around the country in the next few weeks. Several NFL agents told SNY they were increasingly wary about sending their players on those visits. One prominent NFL agent, Mike McCartney, gave voice to those concerns on Twitter on Thursday afternoon.
"As an agent, it's my strong recommendation that my players don't travel for any team visits," he wrote. "With 12 or more games played, an All-Star game and Combine for most, teams have enough information to make an informed draft decision."
Another agent, Erik Burkhardt, tweeted "I have been notified that the NFL has cancelled all draftee facility visits," but a source said that while some individual teams are cancelling, the NFL has not issued any mandate yet.
The Giants released a statement on Thursday afternoon:
"We will continue to assess our operations and procedures based on what the medical community and science dictates. Our concern and care is for those in our organization, our staff and players, and the communities in which they live."