The future of free agents’ careers is at risk because of people being forced to stay home, even doctors who are supposed to evaluate the players.
Following the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) being put into law, agents started finding deals for their clients who became a free agent in the midst of a global pandemic. However, there is one major hurdle that teams, agents, and players may find difficult to overcome.
After the NFL prohibited face-to-face meetings in hopes that it would prevent the spread of the virus, teams now have to rely on neutral doctors (doctors that aren’t connected with any NFL team). But due to the severity of the situation, people are being advised (often being forced) to stay at home. This, then, makes it nearly impossible for teams to get hold of a doctor. Recently, the NFL released a statement regarding the new off-season guidelines. It reads:
‘NFL clubs may not bring any free agent player to a club facility or other location to meet with club personnel. Further, club personnel, including members of the club medical staff, may not travel to any location to meet with or conduct a medical examination of a free agent player’.
They also said that they are working on alternatives on how teams can review a player’s medical history as well as administer the necessary tests by a neutral doctor in the general vicinity of the player. This raises some concerns, specifically about who will examine the players and provide accurate and necessary information to the teams.
Michael McCartney, an NFL agent, said that even if agreements are made, they become redundant since players will need to pass their physical exams. This, then, means that some deals are in danger if the exams aren’t done cleanly. ‘Are they other team physicians? Are they into some kind of sports? I don’t know who they are going to use’, said another agent, Brian Overstreet. ‘I can’t see teams inking guys to $27 million, $50 million and $82 million deals without laying eyes on them. I don’t know how that is going to happen, but I don’t see it happening that way’.
NFL agent Alan Herman added to the concern, saying that exams carried out by neutral physicians could potentially reveal injuries that team doctors may have missed could put a deal at risk. ‘This becomes an ambiguous situation now for the next week or so’, he said. ‘What happens to all these players that agreed to big-time contracts? And how quickly is management counsel and the union going to get together on this and figure out who these mutual physicians are so we can all get going and basically complete the contracts because, again, the contracts are never done until a player passes his physical?’.