It is anyone’s guess if the 2020 NFL season will start on time due to the coronavirus pandemic. With positive COVID-19 cases rising in virtually every state across the country, the league may have to adjust its plans to allow teams to begin training camps as early as July 28.
Even if teams are able to begin camps as scheduled, it looks like the league will make adjustments, according to USA TODAY’s Mike Jones:
Among the many concerns re training camps: Social distancing w 90-man roster, coaches, medical/support staff.— Mike Jones (@ByMikeJones) June 30, 2020
Sources: talks in NFLPA circles about proposing reduced roster sizes to 75-80. But unclear if it’ll happen. Not all in favor since it means reduced job opportunities.
If the NFL and the NFLPA agree on beginning the season with 75 people on the roster, it will add another layer of difficulty for younger players —especially undrafted free agents— to make the final 53-man squad.
Having a 90-man roster has only been a thing since 2012 when the league and players union agreed to raise the limit from the original 80 players. Cutting down the number of players allowed at camp will force teams to have veterans on the field more, which I am sure coaches can adjust to.
The San Francisco 49ers may not be as negatively impacted by a reduction in camp bodies as other teams. The Niners starters’ are pretty much set, sans a few positions that are still up for grabs. With an already deep lineup, head coach Kyle Shanahan more than likely has a clear-cut idea of which players he’s planning on keeping on the final 53-man roster.
I am hopeful the NFL will be able to start things on time, even if it means making small adjustments like this. The thing that scares me is that there is no end in sight for the virus itself. Unless the league is planning on mimicking the NBA and hosting teams in a hub city, it’s difficult to imagine teams traveling almost every week for the duration of the season.
There are still many factors at play, and we should begin to get a clearer picture over the comings weeks on the likelihood of the 2020 NFL season starting on time.