NFL teams forced to get creative with free agency announcements amid coronavirus physical ban

The Chicago Bears have reportedly worked out a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars for quarterback Nick Foles.

The news was reported early Wednesday afternoon. Normally a report like this is followed up by an official announcement from a team confirming the transaction.

The Foles transaction was not — much like other transactions involving players changing teams around the start of the new league year.

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Like most else in the world right now, that change in how news is reported can be blamed on the coronavirus. And it forced the Bears to get creative.

Why can’t teams confirm transactions?

NFL teams are prohibited from conducting physicals with new players at team facilities as part of the social distancing protocols being exercised amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFL has also prohibited teams from announcing that they’ve agreed to deals until they are signed.

Since many deals remain unsigned pending physicals, that’s led to transactions without confirmations. The Bears didn’t let that stop them from letting fans know that a Foles deal went down.

The Bears got creative when "announcing" their trade for Nick Foles. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)
The Bears got creative when "announcing" their trade for Nick Foles. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)

Bears work a loophole

They found a workaround. They ran with a report just like the sports media outlets who cover them.

“According to an NFL Network report, the Bears on Wednesday acquired quarterback Nick Foles from the Jaguars in exchange for the compensatory fourth-round draft pick they were recently awarded by the NFL,” an announcement on the official team site read Wednesday.

The release then cited the NFL’s COVID-19 policy.

“NFL teams are prohibited from announcing any trades until the player they acquired passes a physical,” the announcement reads. “And it's unclear when that will be allowed to happen because—due to concerns about the coronavirus—the league is not permitting clubs to meet with players at their facilities or other locations.”

The Arizona Cardinals took the same tack, citing reports for their Monday blockbuster that landed wide receiver Deandre Hopkins in a trade with the Houston Texans. The Texans, meanwhile, make no mention of signing Randall Cobb, who is reportedly joining the team from the Dallas Cowboys to take Hopkins’ place.

It’s a small thing in the grand scheme. But it’s just another example of how the coronavirus is creeping into almost every aspect of daily life.

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