CLEVELAND — With more than 20 members of the Cleveland Browns roster having tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week, their Week 15 matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders has been delayed. On Friday, the NFL announced that Saturday's matchup between the Browns and Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium has been pushed back to Monday, Dec. 20. Kickoff will be at 5 p.m. ET.
News of the Browns-Raiders game having been delayed comes at the end of a week in which Cleveland has placed more than 20 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including its top two quarterbacks. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has also tested positive for COVID-19 and would not be eligible to coach on Saturday without returning a negative COVID-19 test.
As of Friday, the following players from the Browns' active roster have either been placed on the COVID-19 list or tested positive for COVID-19, according to reports or confirmations from the team itself:
- QB Baker Mayfield
- QB Case Keenum
- RB Kareem Hunt
- WR Jarvis Landry
- TE Austin Hooper
- OT Jedrick Wills Jr.
- OG Wyatt Teller
- DE Takkarist McKinley
- DE Jadeveon Clowney
- DE Ifeadi Odenigbo
- DT Malik McDowell
- LB Mack Wilson Sr.
- LB Tony Fields II
- LB Jacob Phillips
- CB A.J. Green
- CB Troy Hill
- S Grant Delpit
- S Ronnie Harrison Jr.
- S John Johnson III
- P Jamie Gillan
The Browns organization released the following statement after news of the postponement was made official:
"While our team and entire organization diligently prepared for tomorrow's game as initially scheduled, both from an on-field and fan-experience standpoint, we respect the NFL's decision to postpone our matchup against the Raiders to Monday at 5 p.m. ET. As always, our top priority is the health and well-being of our community, coaches, players and their families, whether that is related to COVID-19 or player safety factors. Our team has consistently adhered to the league's COVID-19 protocols during the past two seasons, and we will continue to operate in a manner that meets and oftentimes exceeds the guidelines dictated by the league and its medical experts.
"We fully recognize the fluidity of the situation, including Browns personnel who may be available this week, and remain in constant communication with the NFL. The team conducted virtual meetings and a virtual walkthrough this morning and plans to hold a practice tomorrow at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus as we continue to prepare for the Raiders game. Although we are unable to disclose specifics, we are fortunate that every member of our organization who has recently tested positive was vaccinated, the majority of which are currently asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms.
"As we have done throughout the 2021 season, the Browns and FirstEnergy Stadium on Monday will continue to have various health and safety measures in place for our fans and staff members, including reliable access to hand sanitizer, comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting regimens, and more throughout the venue. In addition, as recommended by the CDC, the Browns strongly encourage everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear masks in indoor spaces; unvaccinated individuals are asked to wear a mask at all times; and vaccinated persons should consider doing the same when unable to socially distance. Ticket holders with questions about ticket policies should contact a Browns ticket office representative."
Earlier this week, the NFL adjusted its COVID-19 protocols to lessen the testing standards for vaccinated players who have tested positive and are asymptomatic to return to team activities. However, specifics have not been given, and it is unknown how it could affect the Browns prior to the now-delayed kickoff.
While the NFL delayed multiple games last season due to COVID-19 outbreaks, the league had yet to do so for any game during the 2021 campaign. Pushing their Week 15 matchup vs. the Raiders to Monday will mean a short week of preparations for Cleveland heading into its Week 16 game against the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day.
The Browns were not the only team dealing with COVID concerns, as outbreaks have also occurred among the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Football Team. Because of this, the league has also moved both LA's game against the Seattle Seahawks and Washington's matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles from Sunday to Tuesday at 7 p.m. eastern.