NFL facilities have been closed to players and coaches for months due to the coronavirus. Fortunately for the upcoming season, the NFL could be on the verge of taking a few more significant steps toward a normal summer for football teams.
New Jersey announced on Tuesday that its pro teams, the New York Giants and New York Jets, can return to their facilities and allow players to practice. Unfortunately, the NFL’s current guidelines prevent coaches and anyone on the roster from entering the building. That might be about to change.
NFL coaches could return to facilities next week
Coaches around the league rely on being in the same building to communicate and prepare for the upcoming season. It’s especially crucial for first-year head coaches, who use the time at the facilities to talk with their assistants and coordinators about the team’s summer schedule and practices.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson, the NFL is discussing allowing head coaches to return to their team’s facility by next week.
It would mark a crucial moment for the NFL and a significant step towards the season starting on time. Allowing coaches in the building next week, it would keep teams on track to hold minicamps this summer and eventually training camp without any delays.
NFL minicamps might be held in mid to late June
Allowing coaches to return to the building is important, but players gaining access to an NFL weight room and training facility is critical for a full season. Players are more spread out across the country and teams would need time to get them all to camp then test them for the coronavirus.
Fortunately, per the report, that is also becoming a possibility. If coaches return to the building next week, the NFL could then explore bringing players back for full-squad minicamps by the middle of June or near the end of the month.
Of course, the league wants to provide a level playing field for all 32 teams. It’s why, as one league source described to Yahoo Sports, the NFL is focused on California.
“If California is open for [team] operations soon, minicamps can still happen in June — probably late June, I’d think — but maybe even mid-June,” an NFL source said, via Yahoo Sports.
There is momentum building towards that happening. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this past week that pro sports could return without fans by early June. If that happens, the NFL could then allow its clubs to hold minicamp later in June, when more states will likely also be opened up to teams.
The NFL’s primary target is reportedly June 15, which would help teams remain on schedule. However, per the report, June 27 is also viewed as another target date for minicamps. If that happened, it would represent a two-week delay from the normal schedule and could force the league to delay training camp in July.
One thing is for certain, there will be an NFL season this fall. It’s merely a matter of when the season will begin and it seems increasingly likely that the NFL will stick to its schedule without any major delays.