The NFL's annual scouting combine, used for teams to gather valuable information about the top prospects in the upcoming draft, is questionable for this winter, with its status expected to be decided in the next week, according to league sources.
After weeks of discussion, the NFL plans to decide at last whether there will be a combine this year and what form it will take.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, sources said the league has debated numerous ways to approach it: have it in a reduced form in Indianapolis in February, push it back to April, or simply just use regional combines that would eliminate the need for many of the prospects to travel to Indianapolis, as they regularly have done for the past three-plus decades.
But the NFL offseason calendar is largely contingent upon the first event in it: the combine, which has occurred each winter in Indianapolis since 1987. If the combine is pushed back, it could impact the timing of when free agency would begin as well as the dates of the draft.
The other complication now is that the NCAA announced last week that it is staging the majority of the 2021 men's basketball tournament in Indianapolis from March 14 through April 5, creating challenges for the NFL if it had any plans to push back the combine, which usually begins in late February.
The NFL and combine officials still are investigating alternatives, but there are so many issues that few ever envisioned, as has been the case with every event on the league's calendar. But the combine as people knew it will not take place. Questions loom on whether it will be held, how downsized it will be, when it will be held -- and all are likely to be answered in the coming days.