July 21, 2020
In a call with players on Tuesday evening, the NFLPA has confirmed a number of changes to training camp and the leadup to the 2020 regular season that the union has been negotiating with the NFL, as the two sides continue to construct a feasible foundation to operate amid the pandemic. As initially reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, and confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, there were five main points of discussion, which includes zero preseason games in 2020. Having no exhibitions this summer has been the stance by the union all along, but the NFL just recently came down from its one-game proposal on Monday and has now suggested no preseason games at all.
Along with that change, the Players Association noted that roster sizes for training camp are expected to be set at 80 players to start camp, which is down 10 from the traditional 90-man rosters you typically see under normal circumstances. The union is also pushing for a longer ramp-up period in camp, per Pelissero, and there are general agreements on voluntary and high-risk opt-outs along with an agreement on stipends if games are lost.
The last 24-48 hours have seen a great deal of movement in the negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA. Along with the NFL proposing zero preseason games, the two sides came to an agreement on Monday to conduct daily testing for the first two weeks of training camp, which was one of the final major health and safety hurdles that had yet to be worked out.
This two-week stretch of daily testing will be decreased to every other day if the positivity rate drops below 5% among individuals in Tier 1 (players, coaches, trainers, physicians, and necessary personnel) and Tier 2 (GMs, team presidents, and football operations employees, etc.). Prior to this, there will be a pre-entry testing period that will last five days. On Day 1 and Day 4, players will be tested and have two days of remote education in between. Day 5 is when players are able to enter the team facilities to take physicals, as long as their tests were negative. Day 5 is also when daily testing begins.
“Our union has been pushing for the strongest testing, tracing, and treatment protocols to keep our players safe,” the NFLPA said in a statement Monday regarding the COVID-19 testing procedures. “The testing protocols we agreed to are one critical factor that will help us return to work safely and gives us the best chance to play and finish the season.”
While the NFL and NFLPA continue to check things off the to-do list before camp, the economics of how they’ll absorb revenue losses due to the pandemic still looms large over these two sides and will need to be flushed out at some point in the near future.