The NFL has already cut the 2020 preseason schedule down from four games to two. That decision was made weeks ago with the coronavirus pandemic across the United States in a bit of a low point (compared to its early and recent spikes). Now with cases, positive testing rates, hospitalizations, and deaths on the rise, the league is preparing to cut back the exhibition schedule even more.
According to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, the league has offered to move to a single game per team this August in a proposal to the NFL Players Association. If this indeed takes place, it will mean that half of the teams will need to travel for their exhibition game, while the other half will remain at their home facilities.
NFLPA leadership has remained adamant in recent days that they want to eliminate the preseason and have a 45-day buildup to game action, citing recommendations from a joint task force of doctors and medical experts that the union and league formed earlier this offseason. However, there are indications that one preseason game may be earning some support among the players. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reports that players fighting for roster spots have told their team player representatives that they do want a preseason game as a chance to earn a roster spot.
Indeed, more players around the league are in a position to fight for a roster spot than have one guaranteed, as teams will be cutting their rosters back from 90 to 53 players at the end of training camp. Even if each team has 30 true locks, that leaves 60 players who would likely love to have that one opportunity to audition.
Training camps are starting to open on Monday, with the Chiefs and Texans welcoming rookies a day before the rest of the league. Returning players will then be expected to report early next week. Both the NFL and NFLPA surely want to get an agreement on the preseason and training camp protocols in place before camps fully open up.