Earlier this week, Yahoo reported that the NFL expected they may be ready to allow coaches to return to their NFL facilities as early as next week, which would require that all 32 teams are legally permitted to reopen their facilities. The league quickly responded to the report by saying that there is no timetable on such matters. Yesterday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell basically confirmed what Yahoo had reported.
“We expect that next week clubs will be permitted to include members of their coaching staffs among the employees permitted to resume work in the club facility”, he said in a statement. “We are actively working with governors and other state and local authorities in those states that have not yet announced definitive plans and will confirm the precise date on which coaches can return to the facility as soon as possible”.
It’s unclear what specifically this means, as it doesn’t say that all coaches would be eligible to return. I would like to believe that this involves head coaches, coordinators, and assistant coaches. This development would also help set the groundwork for allowing some players to return to their facilities as well.
Still, it is unclear at what point we may be able to reach full capacity. For the moment, only a certain number of people in total are allowed to be in the building, and at a maximum of 50 percent capacity. We’re talking about 90-man rosters, here.
For the moment, teams are only allowed to have 75 individuals in their facility, and the memo mentions nothing about expanding that number. In fact, it explicitly mentions that the possible return of coaches next week would include them in the 75-person maximum.
Again, NFL offseason rosters consist of 90 players. That is more than 75, which makes players actually returning to practice under these conditions problematic. A return to practice would also necessarily have to include a lifting of this restriction.
Goodell’s memo notes that the league is working with the NFLPA “on developing protocols that will allow at least some players to return to your facilities on a limited basis prior to the conclusion of the offseason program”, which he just extended an additional two weeks. “We expect to begin sharing agreed-upon protocols and additional information very soon”.
It seems that there is a positive development toward the return of football on a semi-daily basis, which I’m sure we all welcome eagerly. Still, it’s difficult to envision a minicamp coming off in time before training camp under these conditions. I’m not sure the NFLPA will agree to terms that would enable this. 90 players, in addition to all other sorts of personnel, is a lot of people to account for.