On Friday, as the rest of the sports world was focused on cancellations, event postponements and entire major sports seasons put on hold, the NFL … continued to churn out news as usual.
The biggest headline to emerge that day from the Vikings: Xavier Rhodes and Linval Joseph had been cut, giving the Vikings $18.5 million in cap space. Two defensive mainstays and Pro Bowl players, both of whom had been here for the entire Mike Zimmer tenure, were gone just like that — a Friday news dump in the midst of a global pandemic, albeit two moves that were not entirely unexpected.
It continued Monday morning with news that quarterback Kirk Cousins had agreed to a two-year extension with the Vikings, a move announced without much ceremony on Twitter by Cousins’ agent. For as much as I’ve wondered if the Vikings might be better off drafting a quarterback and letting Cousins go after this upcoming season, the decision to give him at least a short extension makes a good amount of sense and was unsurprising. Maybe the bigger surprise is that it was such a short extension.
More than anything, all of the NFL news that keeps coming out is a strange mix of both normal and jarring — even though all those Vikings moves are things we’ve been discussing and speculating about for months. They just happened, and they suddenly don’t feel nearly as important as we made them out to be.
As leagues like the NBA continue to look like they will be on hiatus for at least the next few months — ESPN reports that mid-to-late-June is a best-case scenario for the league’s return — and the rest of the world continues to adjust to the new temporary normal of social distancing, the NFL is very close to business as usual. The biggest piece of league-wide news, of course, was the approval of a new collective bargaining agreement.
This is not a critique so much as an observation, and obviously the major difference between the NFL and the collective of MLB, MLS, the NBA and NHL is that those other sports are in-season and the NFL still has more than four months before training camps would even open.
It wouldn’t really make much sense for the NFL to shut down its offseason; doing that would only lead to problems down the road whenever sports resume. It only figures to ramp up in coming days, since Monday is the first day teams can contact external free agents and Wednesday is the day signings will start becoming official.
Maybe it’s a nice escape or comfort in a world where so many headlines — sports and otherwise — are consumed by the coronavirus. It’s a reminder that our current reality isn’t forever.
But that doesn’t make it any less strange, I guess, to scroll through a sports feed that feels like 80% virus news and 20% regular NFL news.