The NFL is slowly taking steps toward a return to normalcy. After conditionally allowing teams to reopen their facilities in May, NFL coaches are slowly starting to return to their offices in preparation for the upcoming season. However, one giant hurdle remains that is already causing the NFL to discuss alternatives to its schedule.
Facing a reality that players might not be allowed to return to their team until training camp in July, the NFL is reportedly contemplating a significant change to the football schedule.
NFL could cancel the first week of 2020 preseason games
The league already anticipates its teams will not be able to hold minicamp this year, which typically starts in the middle of June. Now with the NFL still without a timetable for players to return to team facilities this summer and the NFL Players Association seeking to keep players from reporting for training camp early, the NFL is discussing eliminating some preseason games.
Specifically, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, league officials have considered wiping out the first week of preseason games. The league’s annual Hall of Fame Game, scheduled to be played on Aug. 8 between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers, would likely be one of the games eliminated.
If players, especially veterans that normally report later to training camp, need extra time to prepare due to a lack of in-person team activities, eliminating preseason games makes sense. The NFL could wipe out the entire first week of the full preseason schedule, which would lead to the first game being played on Aug. 20.
Notably, such a move could set a precedent for the future. The NFL has the ability to expand to a 17-game schedule starting with the 2021 regular season and that would likely come with a move from four to three preseason games. Eliminating the first week of action this year could serve as a trial run for teams.
This would still be an extreme move by the NFL’s standards. However, if the additional week of practices helps teams make up for lost time and improves the product, it might be worth it for everyone.