The National Football League (NFL) and its Players Association (NFLPA) are continuing their negotiations for the resumption of this season. The latest breakthroughs include a maximum of 80 players, instead of the typical 90, during training camp, to help social distancing in team facilities. NFL training camp is currently scheduled to begin next week. The NFL will also hold off on any preseason games this season.
In regular seasons, NFL training camps involve 90-man rosters, which often lead to cramped spaces. This season, NFL teams are expected to find unusual ways to follow social distancing guidelines for their players. Some teams have stated that they will be using other rooms in team facilities to house the lockers of their players to maintain 6 feet distance between each locker.
The NFL and its NFLPA are now moving closer to a deal on all the rules that would govern the training camp and the season. League sources indicate that, while headway has been gained on a number of issues, there are still plenty of issues that need to be hammered out between the two parties.
Our statement on Covid-19 testing procedures: pic.twitter.com/6mYF3aK0jm
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) July 20, 2020
Earlier in the week, the NFL and the NFLPA announced that they agreed on the testing protocols for COVID-19. The protocols mandate that all players and team staff will be tested once a day for the first two weeks of training camp, then every other day henceforth if the team’s positive test rate remains under 5%.
Player Protections Still Being Discussed
The NFL and the NFLPA are still in the midst of negotiations on how players can ramp up their training during the camp. The NFLPA has asked the NFL for a longer acclimation period based on the advice of medical experts recognized by the league. The plan would involve a 21-day stretch of just strength and conditioning work, then a 10-day period of practices without pads, then a 14-day period where pads would be allowed. The league has counter-offered, but the NFLPA rejected it.
The NFLPA is also seeking more protections for players who want to opt out of the 2020 NFL season for any reason. The league has offered stipends for players who want to opt out due to being part of a high-risk category ($250,000 for active roster players, and $100,000 for practice squad players), but has offered nothing for players who opt out for any other reason.
Discussions are set to continue in the following days. Training camp will commence on July 28.