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TAMPA ― The Bucs aren’t waiting for the NFL to calibrate its reaction to the threat of the coronavirus.
While the league mulls over its response, the Bucs decided following a meeting Thursday morning to discontinue travel for all scouts, coaches and other staff as a health precaution.
By Thursday afternoon, the team announced it was shutting down the AventHealth Training Center and transitioning the football and business staff to work from home for an unspecified period.
This is a busy time of the year in the NFL, with the legal free agent tampering period set to begin Monday at noon and the NFL draft beginning Thursday, April 23.
Scouts and coaches are attending the various college pro days around the country as a last check of prospects before the draft. Typically, private workouts for players with individual teams would be scheduled.
The coronavirus has now interrupted that process. The NFL has told all staff except for operationally critical staff to work from home until further notice "out of an abundance of caution with the health and safety of our communities as our foremost priority.''
The Bucs, Redskins and 49ers have all pulled scouts and coaches off the road. Others will surely follow suit.
Should the pro days continue, the Bucs and other teams will be able to receive video of the workout. But the way things are going, it’s more likely the league just shuts down for a few weeks.
At this point, expect the NFL to push back the Monday deadline for designating franchise and transition players as well as the start of the legal tampering period. The new league year, which is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on March 18, also is in jeopardy of being delayed.
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