How Protocols Could Impact Seahawks Pursuit of Veteran Free Agents, Trades

As team facilities start to open up for players to kick off training camp, several notable veterans remain unsigned. But if Seattle wants to sign any of them or make a trade, the steps for bringing new players on board are far different than normal due to COVID-19.
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Following news the NFL and NFL Players Association reached an agreement on a return to play plan on Friday, the Seahawks and 29 other teams will officially report for the start of training camp on July 28. With the league opening back up for business, this means there could be plenty of roster movement in coming days.

Under the leadership of general manager John Schneider, Seattle has made plenty of bold moves adding veterans during training camp and before the start of the season. In 2017, he flipped a second-round pick and receiver Jermaine Kearse to the New York Jets for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Last year, he stole Clowney from Houston for a third-round pick and two reserve linebackers.

Now, Schneider has pulled off his biggest trade yet, as the Seahawks sent multiple first-round picks as part of a package for Jets safety Jamal Adams. And that might just be the first of several moves to be made in coming days as camp approaches.

An abnormal offseason in every sense of the word has left several talented veterans unsigned due to the inability to have physicals at team facilities. Most notably, ex-Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney headlines a group also featuring former Vikings star Everson Griffen, Lions defensive tackle Damon Harrison, and Titans cornerback Logan Ryan that will be looking for employment.

While some fans have clung onto hope that Clowney could still return to the Seahawks, he would have to accept less than he already turned down to do so. But there's still a slim chance he could be back and other options such as the run-stuffing Harrison have been on the organization's radar in recent weeks.

For either of those moves to happen - or any free agent signings, for that matter - Seattle won't be able to simply bring in a player off the streets like a normal season. New personnel rules have been implemented due to COVID-19, dramatically impacting how teams will be able to add players.

As a starter, veteran tryouts at team facilities or any other location have been banned indefinitely until further notice.

Free agents will be allowed to have physicals conducted at the office of the club physician and these visits will be relayed to all 31 other teams on a Personnel Notice. Teams may then sign the player to a contract either by hard copy or sending the contract by email. The player will must then return to the contract to the team, but won't be allowed to sign electronically.

Upon signing, if the team has started training camp, the player may begin COVID-19 testing per league-established protocols. If camp has not yet opened, the player won't be allowed to start any activities with the team.

Players such as Adams who are acquired off waivers or via trade will be required to undergo a physical examination with the team physician. Like free agents, if camp has opened, these players will then move into testing protocols before eventually being allowed to participate in workouts and practices.

With these provisions in place, veterans will have some additional hoops to jump through to land a new job for the upcoming season and trades like the one for Adams will have extra yellow tape attached to them before they can be finalized. But with facilities opening back up to players next week, that shouldn't stop moves from happening as teams such as the Seahawks look to bolster rosters before Week 1.