Late Monday night, the NFL and NFLPA had resolved all outstanding issues on the side letter to the CBA. Both sides agreed to changes for the 2020 season, per Tom Pelissero.
The NFL Management Council just sent clubs an updated discipline schedule, including fines and suspensions for “High Risk COVID-19 conduct,” such as going to clubs, bars and house parties without PPE.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 4, 2020
No longer labeled High Risk in the final deal: Church. pic.twitter.com/0lntiBNZYS
All Tier 1 and Tier 2 non-player club employees (coaches, medical staff, et al.) are subject to comparable discipline to what may be imposed on players for violations of COVID-19 rules. And Commissioner may discipline clubs that don’t impose such discipline.
Other potential fines for violating NFL-NFLPA protocols, after a written warning for a first offense, per Pelissero:
- Refusal to submit to virus testing: $50,000
- Refusal to wear mask, PPE or tracking device, or maintain social distancing during team travel: progressive discipline up to $14,650
Any player defined as higher-risk —including undrafted free agents and players who didn’t earn a credited season in 2019 — qualify for the same $350,000 stipend if they choose to opt-out of the 2020 season.
The NFL will permit clubs to elevate a practice squad player with notice to the league office up until 90 minutes before kickoff in the event a player is diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined the night before or the morning of the game this upcoming season.
The NFL and NFLPA agreed to extend the deadline for players living with high-risk individual(s) to request alternate housing for the entire season to Week 1, or seven days after a later diagnosis. Teams must provide housing, which counts as a player benefit.
NFL teams are about to gain tens of millions of dollars in cap space. The management council informed clubs that signing bonus proration — not just unearned salary and bonuses — will be removed from the 2020 cap immediately upon notification a player is opting out. If a player opts out, his salary comes off the books for this season, but not just his base salary. His prorated portion of his signing bonus does as well. So, the entire contract tolls, not just the cash portion.
Hypothetically speaking, If San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman elected to opt-out before Thursday, his base salary of $8 million would come off the books, but his prorated bonus of $2 million would as well, freeing up $10 million for the 49ers 2020 cap space.
As executive director Andrew Brandt pointed out, the 2020 Cap stays at $198 million for now. Still, players give up $17 million per team in benefits for this year, such as player performance pay, tuition assistance, postseason pay for bye weeks, severance pay, etc. Benefits will be restored in a few years, not before 2023.
Teams can also “challenge” COVID as a football injury and choose not to play a specific player if the player was engaged in “high-risk COVID conduct,” such as social gatherings. The back and forth of how a player contracted the virus could easily become problematic and turn into a “he said she said” type of argument.
Starting on September 6, at 1. p.m. PT, unlimited players can return from the injured reserve after three weeks. The 16-man practice squad roster went into effect as well. Teams can have up to six players with no limit on the number of accrued seasons. They can also protect up to four practice squad members each Tuesday.