INDIANAPOLIS – Clarity has replaced the uncertainty that hovered over the NFL landscape as the opening of training camps loomed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league and NFLPA reached an agreement Friday on several critical, lingering issues that threatened the start of training camp. Rookies already have started reporting to team headquarters, but veterans are scheduled to report Tuesday.
“We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players and club and league personnel,’’ commissioner Roger Goodell said. “These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the NFLPA and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the CDC, and many state and local public health officials.
“The season will undoubtedly present new and additional challenges, but we are committed to playing a safe and complete 2020 season, culminating with the Super Bowl.’’
The world champion Kansas City Chiefs open things Sept. 10 at Arrowhead Stadium against the Houston Texans. The Indianapolis Colts open the season Sept. 13 at Jacksonville.
The resolution of differences comes after days of negotiations. The NFLPA revealed its board of representatives adopted the amendments to the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement by a 29-3 vote “to protect our players’ health, safety and financial well-being.’’
Colts’ rookies began reporting to the team’s Farm Bureau Football Center earlier this week. Each player is required to have two negative COVID tests before being allowed into the facility. Players are then given daily tests for at least the next two weeks.
Key items included in the agreement, according to numerous reports:
- The 90-player offseason roster must be trimmed to 80 by Aug. 16. No more than 80 players are allowed at the facility at a given time. The final cut to 53 is Sept. 5.
- The practice squad will increase to 16 players.
- The first four days of camp are reserved for COVID testing. Days 5-6 are for physicals and virtual meetings. The next eight days involve strength and conditioning. There can be a maximum of 14 padded practices, beginning Aug. 17. Players will be given one day off for every seven days.
- Players may opt-out of the 2020 season, but must do so in the next 10 days. Players considered high risk to COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and gain an accrued season if they opt-out. A player without risk is allowed to opt-out and earns $150,000. Once a player opts out, it’s irrevocable.
- Players who make the final roster cut get a $350,000 stipend if the season is canceled and no games are played. If the season is canceled before the final cut, players who were on the team in 2019 get $250,000.
- The salary cap remains at $198.2 million for 2020, and will at least be $175 million in 2021 to reflect the anticipated financial losses this season. Possible financial shortfalls will be addressed in the subsequent four seasons.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.