ASHBURN, Va. — Due to a growing roster of players under COVID-19 protocols, three NFL games are now postponed this weekend - Washington Football Team at Philadelphia, Las Vegas at Cleveland and Los Angeles at Seattle, documents from the league office say.
The Washington-Eagles game has been moved to Tuesday at 7 p.m., and the game will be shown on FOX.
A tweet from the NFL public relations office stated that the changes were made "based on medical advice and after discussion with the NFLPA as we are seeing a new, highly transmissible form the virus this week resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the league."
Saturday's Raiders-Browns game is now moved to Monday at 5 p.m. and is to air on the NFL Network, while Sunday's Rams-Seahawks game is now set for Tuesday at 7 p.m., airing on FOX.
Previously, the NFL did not plan to move any games because of coronavirus outbreaks. But recent developments with the omicron strain of COVID-19 has changed the league’s thinking.
Washington Football Team's COVID-19 roster continues to grow and its latest roster addition is quarterback Taylor Heinicke.
Garrett Gilbert has been signed to WFT from the Patriots' practice squad and he could be Washington’s starting quarterback Tuesday.
Since 1993, Washington has started 32 different QBs and on Tuesday on the road in Philadelphia, the 33rd starting quarterback in franchise history could be either Gilbert, Kyle Shurmur or Jordan Ta'amu.
Heinicke's addition to the COVID-19 list brings the total to at least 22 players in coronavirus protocols and at least 23 players in nine days.
The NFL did announce alterations to COVID-19 protocols this week, allowing players to play if they have one negative test now or if they test negative the day of the game. But, do these protocols do enough?
"I think it's a step in the right direction...There's only one player on the Rams right now who is not vaccinated and according to head coach Sean McVay, every single player that tested positive prior to Thursday was vaccinated," Locked On Rams host Sosa Kremenjas. "So every one of these guys does have a chance to make this protocol and eventually get back into this contest. Of course, I'm sure a majority of them probably still won't be able to make it."
NFL's updated COVID-19 protocols also include
- Requiring masks regardless of vaccination status
- Holding only remote or outdoor meetings.
- Stopping in-person meals
- Prohibiting outside visitors while on team travel
In order for a vaccinated player to return to the team, they will need two negative tests, 24 hours apart. Unvaccinated players face tougher protocols, including a mandatory 10-day isolation period after a positive test.
The NFL now mandates that all Tier 1 and 2 personnel "who have previously been vaccinated and are eligible under [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, must receive a booster shot" by Dec. 27. All players and staff, regardless of vaccination status, are required to get tested daily, wear masks indoors at the team's facilities and meet virtually.
On Monday, WUSA9 confirmed a Tier 3 staffer with the Washington Football Team tested positive for the omicron variant of COVID-19. This is the first known case of that variant in the NFL. This person is not a member of the football operations. Per the NFL/NFLPA's protocols, Tier 3 consists of "individuals who perform essential facility, stadium or event services but do not require close contact with Tier 1 individuals," which are players and essential football personnel.
Before the season, Head Coach Ron Rivera said 90% of the team's players received the coronavirus vaccine.