The NFL and NFLPA beat the Sunday deadline to avoid a league shutdown.
The NFL held a huge advantage over the other North American professional sports leagues, as they had until July to figure out a plan to start the season during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the league sprinted to get a deal done with the NFL Players Association at the 11th hour.
On Thursday, there was talk of the NFL and players union being nowhere close to an agreement on the economic structure and health protocol for the 2020 season, and owners actually threatened to shut down league operations if no deal was reached by Sunday.
24 hours later, the players union agreed to terms on the owner’s proposal on adjustments to the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the 2020 season by a 29-3 vote. That’s right, football is happening.
Training Camp taking place on schedule
Starting on Tuesday, players around the league will undergo COVID-19 testing, where they’ll enter a two-day isolation period. A second test taking place on the fourth day of camp. Once a player receives two negative tests, they will be allowed to enter the team facility and begin training.
In terms of economics, both sides agreed to a slight decrease in salary cap. Starting in 2021, the cap will be set at $175 million, which is down from this year’s mark of $198.2 million. That is due to the likelihood of fans not being permitted into stadiums for the majority of the season. Additionally, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to terms on players only receiving pay if games are played in 2020.
Perhaps most importantly, players are allowed to opt-out for the season for medical reasons. If they do so, they’ll receive a stipend. A player will earn $350,000 if a player is listed as high risk, or $150,000 if a player voluntarily opts out, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Teams will begin strength and conditioning work on the seventh day of camp and begin their first of 14 padded practices by Aug. 17. As for roster sizes, teams will only be allowed to have 80 players attend camps, which is down from the usual 90. However, the league expanded the number of practice squad players from 12 to 16. Of course, there will be no preseason games taking place this year to secure the health of players during the pandemic.
Barring a spread of COVID-19, the NFL season will take place as scheduled.