Before the 2020 NFL season can begin, or even training can, the NFL and NFL Players Association must agree on a deal for the upcoming season. While a variety of issues must be addressed for football to be played during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is hope that something gets done.
NFL, NFL Players Association hope to strike deal on 2020 season amid COVID-19 pandemic
The NFL has operated for months with the intention of a full 2020 season despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Players are expected to report for training camp on July 28, but that target date has been put in jeopardy due to negotiations on a plan for the upcoming season.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous issues have arisen that both sides must address before anyone takes the field. Among them; determining how often players will be tested for COVID-19, the number of preseason games, roster sizes, opt-out clauses for players and how to share the pain of a massive revenue hit.
Fortunately, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the NFL and NFLPA are expected to discuss the matters during a call on Monday. While significant hurdles remain, both sides are reportedly close on working conditions and remain hopeful a full agreement can be reached next week.
The NFL already took the first step by eliminating two preseason games, but the NFLPA is pushing to cancel the entire preseason schedule. In the players’ view, playing meaningless games increases their potential exposure to the coronavirus. However, it’s expected that the NFLPA will compromise and a one-game format has been discussed.
By allowing for a one-week preseason, which will create additional television revenue, the NFL would then grant several of the NFLPA’s requests. Among them, players could be tested daily or at least every other day for COVID-19 and the NFL could grant a longer acclimation period before teams hit the practice field.
Multiple NFL players have also expressed concern about playing this upcoming season with the unknown long-term risks that could come from contracting the coronavirus. As a result, the NFL will need to create an opt-out clause for players and determine how they will be compensated, or if they will forfeit their entire 2020 contract year.
Lastly, the NFL and NFLPA must navigate how to soften the blow of a pending revenue hit. Since fan attendance will be dramatically reduced this season, if attendance is even permitted, the league could lose $3-plus billion in revenue, which would send the 2021 salary cap plummeting.