The NFL has stuck to its schedule for months, with the hopes of starting the 2020 season on time despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Now with friction emerging between the league and the NFL Players Association, the start of training camp and the beginning of the regular season could be in jeopardy.
NFL, NFLPA can’t agree on training camp dates
NFL players were expected to report for training camp on July 28, but the COVID-19 pandemic has created new complications for the league. Among them, the NFL proposing to withhold a significant portion of players’ salaries in escrow as the NFLPA pushes to cancel the entire preseason, reduce roster sizes and institute a flat cap for 2021 to account for lost revenue this year.
Both sides have been negotiating a plan for training camp and the 2020 season for weeks. With the scheduled report date less than three weeks away, no deal is in place and the start of training camp could be in jeopardy.
The NFL already eliminated the first two weeks of its 2020 preseason schedule, which will give players more time to prepare for the upcoming season. However, teams haven’t practiced together all offseason and players need a significant amount of time to be in game-ready condition for the regular season.
As the negotiations between the two sides draw out longer, it puts everything for the league in jeopardy. Starting training camp in August might require the league to really consider delaying the regular season, an idea that already has support from some NFL clubs. At least one NFL coach is already expressing a willingness to postpone training camp by a few weeks.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, the NFL focused on maintaining a sense of normalcy with its offseason and believed the national crisis would end before football season began. Now with the pandemic only getting worse and more players concerned about the health risks of playing this fall, the NFL faces genuine uncertainty for the 2020 season.