NFL could expand its contagious disease policy this season?

By Matt Johnson
Dec 22, 2019; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; The NFL 100 logo is shown on a Wilson football before the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

While NFL teams are getting ready for training camp and a grueling 2020 season, the league office is developing safety protocols to ensure football is played this year. Among the possibilities the league is discussing, expanding on a policy that applies perfectly to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NFL may expand its contagious disease policy to help teams during pandemic

The NFL is already experiencing a small outbreak of COVID-19 and players haven’t even reported to training camp yet. Denver Broncos stars Kareem Jackson and Von Miller, along with Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen and multiple Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans players have all tested positive for the coronavirus.

Due to the number of positive tests already popping up, it seems like a certainty there will also be an outbreak during the regular season. Given teams are limited to 53-man rosters, clubs would seemingly be in trouble if multiple players tested positive at the same time.

Fortunately, it seems like the NFL might have a partial solution. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the NFL currently has a contagious disease policy listed in its rules. Under the current guidelines, teams must report any contagious disease outbreak that spreads in a locker room to the NFL. If at least six players are confirmed to have the disease, the team can receive up to eight roster exemption to replace those players.

However, the NFL will likely need to adjust the policy given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Teams would likely need the ability to receive more than eight roster exemptions and the flexibility to make moves before the game,. Fortunately, the NFL is working to make adjustments to the policy.

League officials are also considering expanding practice squads this season. If the measure is approved, the additional roster flexibility would be huge for teams when they inevitably lose players for multiple weeks to a positive coronavirus test.