NFL postponing 3 games due to COVID-19 outbreaks, sources tell ESPN

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Friday, December 17, 2021

NEW YORK -- The NFL has moved the Las Vegas Raiders game at the Cleveland Browns from Saturday to Monday due to a COVID-19 outbreak, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The game will be played at 5 p.m., 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. on ESPN.

As of Friday morning, the Browns have had a total of 24 players -- 12 starters, including the punter -- who either tested positive for COVID-19 this week or were still on the COVID-19/reserve list from last week.

Previously, the NFL did not plan to move any games because of coronavirus outbreaks, saying even forfeits "could be in play."

But recent developments with the omicron strain of COVID-19 has changed the league's thinking - as did several outbreaks across the league entering Week 15 of the season.

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

The exponential rise of COVID cases across the NFL has led to the league "getting pressure to move games," a source told Schefter.

Sunday's games between Washington and Philadelphia, and the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle were expected to be moved to Tuesday, sources told Schefter.

The rosters of the Rams and WFT have been ravaged by the coronavirus this week, with 25 Los Angeles players and 21 Washington players going on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Earlier Friday, Saints coach Sean Payton tested positive for COVID-19 and was immediately isolated from the team.

Payton, who is vaccinated and tested positive in 2020 for the coronavirus, will remain isolated for 10 days unless he meets the league requirements for a fully vaccinated individual to return to the team environment.

The Saints said defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has been assigned head coaching duties for this Sunday night's game at Tampa Bay. Payton is expected to return for New Orleans' subsequent game against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 27.

The positive test for Payton comes after he missed practice on Wednesday when the club said he was "under the weather" but had tested negative. Payton was back at practice and meetings on Thursday.

Payton's positive test came as COVID-19 cases have spiked across the NFL in recent days, mirroring trends seen in the general population.

Three Saints players - defensive end Cameron Jordan, running back Mark Ingram and receiver Ty Montgomery - did not play against the New York Jets on Sunday because of positive COVID-19 tests. But by Thursday, Jordan and Montgomery had been activated from New Orleans' reserve/COVID-19 list.

The Saints (6-7) snapped a five-game skid when they beat the Jets 30-9 and remain in contention for one of the NFC's wild-card playoff spots with four regular-season games remaining.

In Week 2 of this season, the Saints were without numerous assistant coaches because of a virus outbreak, but Payton was not among those which tested positive. Payton was among the first NFL employees known to have contracted COVID-19 in the spring of 2020.

(ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report)