Multiple NFL teams suspend travel due to coronavirus

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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Multiple NFL teams suspended their pro day travel Thursday and Friday due to the growing concerns surrounding the new coronavirus known as COVID-19, but the new league year is still set to begin as scheduled this coming Wednesday.

The Washington Redskins were the first team to announce they have suspended all pro day travel, which includes all of their scouts and coaches.

"Due to health and travel concerns surrounding COVID-19, we have informed all of our scouts and coaches that they must return to their home bases and travel will be suspended until further notice," Redskins owner Dan Snyder said in a statement. "The health and safety of our staff and players is our number one priority and we feel that these are the necessary precautions given the current circumstances."

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported that the Redskins will also be canceling their 30 pre-draft visits to their facility.

The following teams have also announced that they are suspending travel for their scouts and coaches, listed in alphabetical order: Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore RavensBuffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cleveland BrownsDetroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas RaidersMiami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the New York Jets have also pulled all of their coaches and scouts off the road for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Bears and Browns also announced that in addition to eliminating air travel for coaches and scouts they have directed the majority of their employees to work from home.

Amid the news of teams canceling pro day travel, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the league currently has no plans to move the start of the new NFL year, which begins next Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. The NFL free agent negotiating window is scheduled to open at noon ET Monday, and free agency officially begins Wednesday upon the start of the new league year.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell notified the clubs Thursday that after careful consideration and consultation with medical experts, the NFL's Annual League Meeting scheduled for March 29-April 1 has been canceled. Rule changes and other football matters normally discussed at the spring meeting will now be discussed and voted upon at the May meeting, with NFL coaches and general managers expected to attend, Pelissero reported.

The NFL also announced that the 2020 HBCU Combine and 2020 Regional Combine have been canceled.

On Friday, the NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams instructing clubs to halt pre-draft visits to team facilities effective at the end of the business day due to growing concerns surrounding the new coronavirus, Pelissero and Garafolo reported.

The Cincinnati Bengals are "are asking employees to work from home during the week of March 16."

The Denver Broncos are allowing all employees who have the ability to work from home the option to do effective immediately until further notice.

"The team is prioritizing its employees' health, their families and the community over all operations -- both football and business," the Broncos said.

The Atlanta Falcons announced they will close their offices until March 27 with the exception of essential personnel. Several offices will be subjected to deep cleaning over the weekend.

Philadelphia Eagles chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie announced that starting Friday "our staff, with limited exceptions, have been instructed to work from home."

"We are continuing our preparations for the 2020 season, including free agency and the draft, and will monitor developments as more information becomes available."

The Houston Texans said in a statement that, in response to COVID-19, they are "implementing certain measures to do our part to help prevent the spread of this virus. All staff will have the ability to work from home."

The Carolina Panthers announced that "outside of a few exceptions, we have instructed our staff to work from home" and that they have limited travel for coaches and scouts until further notice. Panthers general manager Marty Hurney attended Oregon's pro day Thursday.

Pelissero reported Wednesday that the Pittsburgh Steelers were limiting commercial flights for coaches and scouts until further notice as the coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S. Burt Lauten, the Steelers' director of communications, confirmed to NFL.com: "We have adjusted our travel plans temporarily as it pertains to pro days."

Rapoport reported Thursday morning that teams would be briefed by the league office for guidance on how to proceed going forward.

The NFL also has told all staff except for operationally critical employees to work from home until further notice beginning Friday -- "out of an abundance of caution and with the health and safety of our communities as our foremost priority," per Rapoport.

The 2020 NFL Draft currently is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas from April 23-25.

Other sports leagues around the country took measures in response to COVID-19.

The NBA announced Wednesday that it was suspending its season until further notice after reports that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

In the aftermath of the NBA's decision, the NHL announced Thursday that it has "paused" its season as well.

Multiple college basketball conference tournaments -- ACC, Big Ten, SEC, PAC-12 -- announced their cancelations on Thursday morning. Later, the NCAA announced the cancellation of the Division I men's and women's 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.

Major League Baseball released a statement announcing their decision to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the regular season by at least two weeks.

Major League Soccer also released a statement on Thursday that play would be suspended for 30 days.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced the PGA Tour would continue to be played, but without fans in attendance.

NASCAR also released a statement announcing that they will hold races without fans in attendance.

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