The future of the NFL’s 2020 season remains uncertain in its many aspects, though the consensus opinion at a bare minimum is that it will at least take place. How, when, and what it will look like, is still up for debate. As of the final week of May, teams have still been unable to get their coaches, let alone their players, back to work inside of work facilities.
But it feels as though each day brings us a step closer to reaching that point. The NFL has made it clear that any step taken toward reintroducing these elements to the offseason program will be done with an eye trained on competitive balance, so all 32 teams must be practically and legally eligible to do so.
Yesterday, two more teams got the green light, or the sign of an imminent green light, to return to work, with Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf announcing that Allegheny County is now in a ‘yellow’ phase of reopening, which would permit the Pittsburgh Steelers to return their players to their facility. He also said that he expects the Philadelphia region to move from red to yellow in the first week of June, which would put the Philadelphia Eagles in that category as well.
As of the time of the NFL formally allowing teams to reopen their facilities to non-players and non-coaching staff, only 22 of 32 teams had the governmental go-ahead to do so. Since then, many other regions have opened up, including Maryland, and earlier this week, New Jersey, where the New York Giants and Jets practice and play.
“We opened our facility last Tuesday, May 19, and have adhered to the policies and guidelines from government and health officials as well as the National Football League”, Brooke Pryor quoted Burt Lauten, the Steelers’ communications director, as saying. “We appreciate the guidance from the Governor’s office as we make plans to safely prepare for the 2020 season”.
Earlier this week, Yahoo reported that coaches could begin returning to facilities very shortly, and that there was some optimism that players could begin returning to work as early as the middle of June, which would open up the possibility of teams actually holding live mandatory minicamps.
Jeremy Fowler, however, reported that many teams, even if allowed, have already made the decision to keep this portion of the offseason entirely virtual. Teams have been conducting OTAs virtually for weeks already.
Overall, things seem to be tracking well to allow for the possibility of all 32 teams being able to conduct their training camps on-time in late July and August, whether that takes place at their own facilities or possibly even on offsite locations, for the few teams who continue to do that, the Steelers among them.