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This typically-busy period is even busier this year: The league and its players just agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, while NFL teams have until Monday at 12 p.m. ET to place the franchise tag on players. That means a flurry of roster transactions and rumors, many of which will impact the New England Patriots as they attempt to re-sign quarterback Tom Brady (or not).

And it's possible Brady ends up in a different uniform, like Namath and Unitas and many others before him. It seems unfathomable. Brady's next move is the most interesting story in free agency, but there are plenty of others.

NFL clubs have been instructed to avoid all in-person contact with prospects ahead of next month's NFL draft, according to a posting on the league's web site. In a memo to all 32 teams, the league instructed clubs to stop visits to team facilities by prospects as of Friday in the latest safety move in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak. "We have been closely monitoring developments relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and taking action based on the guidance of our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills and the medical experts at the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," the memo said.

With sporting events across the country being canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL could push back the start of free agency, Pro Football Talk reported Thursday. Early Thursday, ESPN reported the NFL had "no plans to move the start of the league year," which is officially scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 18. Per the report, the NFL doesn't want to make such an announcement until after player voting on the new collective bargaining agreement closes Saturday.

With sporting events across the country being canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL could push back the start of free agency, Pro Football Talk reported Thursday. Early Thursday, ESPN reported the NFL had "no plans to move the start of the league year," which is officially scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 18. Per the report, the NFL doesn't want to make such an announcement until after player voting on the new collective bargaining agreement closes Saturday.

The COVID-19 outbreak is impacting sports in the United States in unprecedented fashion, and while the NFL technically isn't 'in season,' one of its biggest events of the year will likely be affected by the pandemic The 2020 NFL Draft is scheduled to kick off in Las Vegas on April 23 and run through Saturday, April 25 in front of a crowd that will rival last year's record-setting turnout of 600,000 people in Nashville. Holding a public event like that would be in direct opposition to the social distancing theory suggested to contain the spread of COVID-19, and the NFL is in a difficult position. Teams around the league are already changing how they approach the run-up to the draft.

Bud Light unveiled endorsement deals this week with three NFL players who have a humorous history with the beer brand. New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters and Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Eric Fisher will all serve as brand ambassadors. They are the first active NFL players to sign deals with Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch InBev.

That is what is driving the Brady maelstrom now, with 13 teams having been named in media reports as either being a significant Brady suitor or having some level of serious interest. You read that correctly: In the past month, no fewer than 13 teams have been the subject of some level of sourced speculation involving the Brady sweepstakes. About those Cowboys, Giants reports Now we're getting to territory that makes little sense after the New York Giants entered into the fray via an NFL Network report on Thursday.

Who wouldn't want to follow in the footsteps of John Elway and Eli Manning? The Heisman Trophy winner, national champion and consensus No. 1 pick in next month's draft said Tuesday at the NFL scouting combine that he'd have no qualms playing in Cincinnati, which owns the top choice. "Yeah, I'm not going to not play," the LSU star quarterback replied when asked if he would report to the Bengals should they select him No. 1 overall on April 23 in Las Vegas.

Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University studies the brains of deceased football players at the world's largest brain bank, hoping to learn about the long-term impact of repeated head traumas for people ranging from professional athletes to victims of domestic abuse. "For the last 12 years, we've really focused on the long-term effects of head trauma, including what we call repetitive head trauma," where the impact doesn't cause a concussion, said McKee, chief of neuropathology at VA Boston University and director of the CTE Center of Boston University. The VA-Boston University-Concussion Legacy Foundation Brain Bank in Boston houses 850 human brains, most of them donated for research by former football players or their families.

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