It’s official: the 2020 preseason is dead.
The NFL Players Association and the league have reportedly agreed to several football-related provisions for training camp and the preseason this year, with the most prominent being the elimination of all preseason games. USA Today reported the details, which also include adjustments to training camp roster limits.
The number of preseason games to be played has been steadily declining over the past few weeks. The league initially pared the exhibition slate down from four games per team to two, but recent pushes by the players union have convinced the league to eliminate them altogether. A major concern of the players’ regarding preseason games was that they would result in insufficient ramp-up time before game action due to the elimination of the offseason workout programs.
Another key provision, however, is the reduction of rosters heading into camp. Offseason rosters are typically capped at 90 players, with teams making a single round of mandated cuts to reach a 53-man active regular-season roster. However, the two sides agreed to an 80-man roster limit during training camp, meaning that most teams will need to release ten players each either before the start of camp or shortly thereafter.
Fewer players in the building will theoretically mean that there is a slightly reduced chance of players contracting and spreading the novel coronavirus, as there will be more opportunity to ensure social distancing protocols. An 80-man roster also should allow teams to split their rosters neatly into four groups of 20, which is the number of players allowed to be together in team facilities at a single time.
For now, the regular season still appears to be a go. Players will be tested for COVID-19 daily over the first two weeks of camp, with the test likely being the first and only activity that a player will undergo on their report date. Players will also wear proximity trackers during practices to help check which other players they come into close contact with.