One subject that I talked about very recently is the fact that, without rookie minicamp, rookie free agents and other first-year players will, at least for the time being, not have the opportunity to try out for teams in an attempt to make the offseason roster.
Under normal circumstances, the Pittsburgh Steelers would hold their rookie minicamp two or so weeks after the draft, and in addition to all rookies and first-year players on their roster, they would have a large number of players who are participating in the weekend on a tryout basis. Almost every year, one or two (or more) of them would be signed to the 90-man roster. Some of them would end up playing in games.
“Within two weeks after the draft, we were all allowed to have a rookie minicamp, and you only have maybe 15 to 20 guys on your current roster that might count or be available for that”, general manager Kevin Colbert said on SiriusXM yesterday. “So the league would allow us to have a tryout, a player who’s not under contract but comes in just like any other free agent and he’s a tryout. And you get to look at him for that weekend”.
“Even as, as recent as last year when Devlin Hodges came in as a tryout quarterback for us, we said ‘this kid has a little something to him’ and, he ended up starting six games for us last year and won three”, he noted. Aside from Hodges, Tuzar Skipper also made the team as a tryout player.
“So definitely that group is not going to get the same opportunities that they did it in past year”, he admitted. “We did find players and I wish there was a way that we could still find a way to get that tryout possibility possible this year”.
Unfortunately, any plan to have something that would fall in line with this is kind of meaningless until the league can resume operations, and it’s important to remind that that will not take place until all 32 are in a state in which they will be able to do so, in order to retain competitive balance.
At this point, the NFL seems to be resigned to the reality of no Spring drills, but they are still hoping that they can at least conduct training camp as normal, roughly three months away. I have a hard time seeing the Steelers being allowed to house 90 players and staff in dorms in close proximity for a month, however.
Whenever training camp does take place, in whatever form that may take place, perhaps then they can have some sort of tryout. There would probably be some separate work for rookies and first-year players to begin with, anyway, so it could be done then. Like everybody else, though, they’ll just have to wait.