The NFL and the NFL Players Association came to an agreement on several issues that led to the start of training camp for the 2020 season. Among those items were opt-out provisions due to COVID-19 and the future of the salary cap after this season.
The NFL and the NFLPA had already agreed on cancelling the preseason and reducing the training camp rosters from 90 players down to 80. Teams have until August 16 to reduce their current rosters to meet the 80-player limit.
Testing procedures have already been agreed to. NFL quarterbacks and rookies were tested for COVID-19 on Thursday, July 23 and will be tested again on Sunday, July 26. If those players pass those tests they are allowed to attend meetings, workouts and any other activity at the teams’ headquarters and practice facilities next week.
Iowa RT Tristan Wirfs – Photo by: Getty Images
Veterans report for testing on Tuesday, July 28 and then come back for additional testing on Wednesday, July 29 and again on Friday, July 31. If the veterans pass all three tests they are allowed to attend meetings, workouts and any other activity at the teams’ headquarters and practice facilities the first week of August.
As for the newer developments from Friday’s meeting between the NFLA executive committee, the 32 player representatives and the NFL’s management council, the league and the NFLPA have agreed to have the opt-out date for players be Monday, August 3. Players who choose not to play football in 2020 due to the risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus will be given a $350,000 stipend for medical opt-outs (players who choose not to play due to existing medical concerns) and a $150,000 stipend for voluntary opt-outs (players who do not want to play due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure) instead of being paid their full salaries, according to the Associated Press.
So far, only one NFL player has publicly stated he is opting out of the 2020 season. Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who also happens to have a medical degree and has worked as a physician, will help on the frontlines in the medical community instead of playing football this year.
As of Saturday, July 25, no Buccaneers players have notified the team that they plan on opting out of the 2020 season.
Another issue that was resolved on the conference call was that players will also have their salaries prorated if any games are cancelled during the season due to COVID-19.
Also, practice squads will be expanded to 16 players this year, as undoubtedly there will be some players will contract the coronavirus during the season and will need to be quarantined for 14 days. Four such players could be designated weekly from being exempt from other teams signing them away to their active roster.
The NFLPA tweeted out that the new amendments to the Collective Bargaining Agreement passed by a vote of 29-3.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell – Photo by: Getty Images
“We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement released Friday night. “These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the (union), and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and many state and local public health officials.”
Because of the elimination of mini-camps and OTAs this offseason, the first training camp practices won’t happen for about three weeks. The league agreed to an 18-day acclimation period that includes classroom time and physical training in the weight room and conditioning prior to the start of practices, which should begin in mid-August.
Practices will be far different than in years past with smaller groups allowed to practice together. More details will emerge over the weekend about the specifics of training camp practices as information from the NFL and NFLPA is shared with the media.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has publicly stated that the team might look into keeping a quarterback sequestered away from the team – either Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Griffin – in case players on the team, including starter Tom Brady, contract COVID-19 during the season.
The league has proposed a reduced salary for 2021, which will be a floor of $175 million due to the anticipated lost stadium revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 cap may go higher, but it can’t go lower.
This year’s salary cap is $198.2 million, and there was some speculation that it could fall to as low as $158 million in 2021, which was what it was in 2016. It seems the league and the players association met in the middle with the $175 million cap floor figure.
The agreement allows for cap adjustments through 2024 to cover any additional losses that come from lost stadium revenue at the conclusion of the 2020 season. The NFL salary cap has gone up approximately $10 million each year since 2014.
Pro Football Talk is reporting that there are social behavior requirements for the players during the season to help avoid contracting the coronavirus.
“The deal specifically prohibits players from engaging in certain behaviors this season. Players cannot attend indoor night clubs, indoor bars (except to pickup food), indoor house parties (with 15 or more people), indoor concerts, professional sporting events, or indoor church services that allow attendance above 25 percent of capacity.”
“Players can be fined for violating these rules. Moreover, if they test positive after engaging in prohibited activities, they will not be paid for the games they miss. Also, future guarantees in their contracts would be voided.”
Stay tuned to PewterReport.com for more Buccaneers 2020 training camp developments as news becomes available.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org