COVID-19 carousel: Raiders-Browns NFL game moved to Monday; Tuesday for Seahawks-Rams, WFT-Eagles

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Saturday, December 18, 2021

With COVID-19 hitting some NFL teams hard, Saturday's scheduled game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns has been moved to Monday.

The game will be played at 5 p.m. ET, with the regularly scheduled Monday Night Football game between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears to be played at its usual time of 8:20 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Two games scheduled for Sunday -- Washington at Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams -- have been moved to Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.

As of Friday, the Browns have had 24 players -- 12 starters, including the punter -- who either tested positive for COVID-19 this week or were still on the reserve/COVID-19 list from last week. The Rams have 29 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., cornerback Jalen Ramsey, outside linebacker Von Miller and four other starters. Los Angeles' list includes tight endTyler Higbee, who missed Monday night's game against the Arizona Cardinals with what was deemed a false positive but was added again Friday. The Seahawks placed leading wide receiver Tyler Lockett and running back Alex Collins on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday. Washington has 23 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including quarterback Taylor Heinicke and backup Kyle Allen.

The Raiders fought their scheduling change, believing the protocols over the summer were clear that outbreaks could result in forfeiture, a source told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler on Friday.

However, NFL policy agreed to in July states that a forfeiture would happen only if all the following instances occur: (1) a game is postponed by requirement of government authorities or at the discretion of the commissioner; (2) the league can't find a suitable makeup date within the framework of the season; and (3) the original postponement was caused by an outbreak among unvaccinated players of one team.

Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN's Paul Gutierrez that moving the team's game against the Browns to Monday put Las Vegas at a "competitive disadvantage."

"Health and safety is No. 1, but it's tough," Davis told ESPN. "Maybe Cleveland should travel here. That would make it more fair."

The Raiders had hoped the NFL would draw a harder line on pushing games through as scheduled, especially in lieu of league guidelines over the summer that outbreaks due to unvaccinated players could result in forfeited games, sources told Fowler. There is also concern in Las Vegas that the Browns' COVID-19 numbers could get worse between Sunday and Monday, though Cleveland is hopeful that players returning over the weekend will offset losses.

Eagles safety Rodney McLeod took to Twitter to vent about his team's schedule change.

A source told ESPN's Brady Henderson that the Seahawks were also unhappy over their game being postponed and would have preferred to play on Sunday as scheduled.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll lamented how playing on Tuesday will force the Seahawks to then play only five days later, calling that a "big concern" and a "big burden" for players to have to recover on a short week.

"It's not what their bodies want to do. They're trained to have a whole week to recover, and they don't get it," Carroll said. "So in that regard, if our game could move back to Monday, that would help us some. That would kind of get in the middle of next week as well. I don't know what's going to happen, but not a fan of that for the players' sake."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo Friday afternoon to all 32 teams concerning COVID-19 protocols and the playing schedule.

"We will make every effort, consistent with underlying health and safety principles, to play our full schedule within the current 18 weeks," Goodell said in the memo. "Each club is obligated to have its team ready to play at the scheduled time and place. There is no right to postpone a game, and games will not be postponed or rescheduled because of roster issues affecting a particular position group or particular number of players."

Information from ESPN's Lindsey Thiry, Jake Trotter and John Keim was used in this report.

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