Steelers

NFL keeping start of league year in place

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Rooney Sports Complex -- DKPS

With large portions of the country shutting down over the COVID-19 outbreak, there were some rumblings the NFL might delay the start of its new league year at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The NFL got a new CBA in place after the NFLPA ratified the deal on Sunday morning. After discussing the issue with the NFLPA, the league has determined to move forward with that deadline, which also will mark the start of the league's free agency period.

The league sent a memo to all 32 teams Sunday afternoon letting them know it would proceed as scheduled.

That means the franchise tag deadline of 11:59 a.m. Monday will remain intact, as will the legal tampering period that begins at noon Monday. Teams will be permitted to contact the agents for pending free agents in an attempt to work out a deal.

The Steelers are expected to use the franchise tag on outside linebacker Bud Dupree.

Some felt the league might delay the start of free agency because other sporting leagues have shut down for at least the next couple of weeks as the country deals with the fallout of COVID-19. But because the NFL is not in season, it has no games to delay. Teams also are not currently permitted to have direct contact with their players, as well, meaning there are no scheduled gatherings of players.

There also are a number of players who have roster bonuses due because of clauses in their current contracts that call for that money to be paid out in a time period after the start of the new league year. If the start of the new league year were to be pushed back, it would shift those payments.

There is still no word if the league's annual draft, scheduled to be held April 23 through the 25 in Las Vegas, has been adjusted despite reports there are changes coming in that process.

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