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2020 Offseason Questions: What Options NFL Considering To Manage Season During Coronavirus?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: What options might the league and union be considering to help teams manage and comply with virus-related health and safety regulations?

There is a virtual meeting taking place today between the NFL and NFLPA, during which a number of topics will be discussed, including a further ironing out of details pertaining to the league’s response to managing the coronavirus.

We have heard numerous ideas already, including adding more spots on the practice squad, basing fan attendance on local conditions and governmental regulations, and voluntarily reducing the size of offseason rosters that teams might take into training camp. Work continues to be done on a facemask that players can wear in-game in an effort to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

I have no doubt that the NFL will make every effort to get this season in without a timescale interruption, but in order to do that, it might require some significant temporary alterations. During World War II, some teams merged because they lost too many players who enlisted or were drafted into combat. The Steelers did this twice, with the Eagles in 1943 and the Cardinals in 1944 (the latter was woefully unsuccessful on the field, by the way).

I’m sure there are a number of options that have been discussed, and which will be further deliberated upon today and into the future. What might some of these proposals be? What are some reasonable and realistic steps that the league and union jointly could take that would help teams and their players and staff conduct a proper season amid a pandemic?

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