As of right now, the NFL has canceled the Hall of Fame game and two weeks of preseason football. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, this was expected considering the teams haven’t had any offseason practices in person and instead have had to endure a virtual offseason. Players are expected to report to training camp as scheduled in late July, but as they try to get in shape on time, the preseason had to be reduced.
But it might not stop at the cancellation of weeks 1 and 4 of it. The NFLPA board voted to recommend the cancelation of every preseason game. The NFL will have to consider the proposal although it’s unclear if they will accept the recommendation of zero preseason games.
Per Dan Graziano from ESPN, the league doesn’t believe they need the players’ approval to play the preseason. Even still, if they do want to play it, they should expect resistance from the union since the latest CBA gave them more say in health and safety issues.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the union has discussed a 48-day camp schedule that would include a 21-day stage of strength and conditioning and a closing stage of two weeks of practice (eight days padded).
They’re also reportedly discussing potential opt-out scenarios, according to NFL reporter Mark Maske from the Washington Post. Both the NBA and MLB have provided these options for their players and it’s likely the NFL will also allow it, at least for high-risk individuals. It’s worth mentioning football causes even more health risks considering the mere size of the team’s rosters.
These are only some of the issues the NFL and NFLPA are trying to solve before the 2020 season. Although it’s not frequently brought up, we can’t forget about the reports from a few weeks ago that said there won’t be a season unless the players and owners decide beforehand how the 2021 salary cap will be impacted by limited revenue in 2020. Without fans in the stands, the league is set to take a huge hit on its financials which means the 2021 salary cap is set to take a hit.
The report from Ian Rapoport, Judy Battista, and Mike Garafolo mentioned the fact that there was no deadline to solve this issue, but both sides expected the negotiations to be done before training camp started. We’re less than a month removed from that date. The NFL shouldn’t have as much trouble figuring out the financial side of things as MLB did, but they should be careful to not follow baseball’s steps.
After an all-out war when the new CBA was being negotiated, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of friction between the NFL and the NFLPA. The key will be things remaining so when more and more issues begin to emerge. The length of the preseason is only the beginning.