Saints coach Sean Payton predicts NFL free agency will get delayed

Saints, Sean Payton, NFL free agency, coronavirus
Dec 24, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton on the sidelines in the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The beginning of NFL free agency is set to begin its 2020 free agency this week and there were recent reports stating that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will not impact that. New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton disagrees with that notion.

During a recent conversation with Britney Eurton of NBC Sports, Payton expressed his belief that the NFL will delay the start of free agency. He made it clear there are ‘a lot of visits players take’ and with ongoing health concerns, it makes too much sense for it to be ‘pushed back.’

“Most immediately, the start of our league year, which is due to be this Wednesday, (when) free agency begins, that’s going to be, I think, pushed back,” Payton said. “Because there’s a lot that goes into that, there’s a lot of visits players take.”

It still remains unclear what the long-term outlook of the coronavirus epidemic will be. Many predict it will get much worse before it gets better, which could impact the 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas. Payton is unsure if the date will change for the event.

“The next item would be the draft,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s going to change date-wise, (but) certainly the format’s going to change relative to what they’re used to. We’re all making the necessary changes and, really, prioritizing what’s most important.”

Respecting public health will likely be the top priority for the Saints and all 32 NFL teams considering the actions all sports leagues have recently taken. It simply wouldn’t be a good look to continue with regular operations.

If NFL free agency does in fact get delayed, it will be interesting to see when each component of the league year is re-scheduled. With all major sports facing this circumstance, the sports calendar could end up becoming very strange.