Pittsburgh Steelers’ team president issued a brief statement regarding the news of an agreement between owners and union on terms to play the 2020 season. The organization released the statement on its website and social media Saturday morning.
“We are excited to come to an agreement with the NFLPA on terms for a return to play for our upcoming training camps around the League. We are looking forward to having our players report to Heinz Field next week to start the conditioning and acclimation process in order to prepare for on-field action later in August.
It is great that we can move forward with the agreed upon plans to get ready for what we believe will be an exciting season on the field, while we navigate through these uncertain times off the field.”
While discussions between both sides were contentious at times, talks progressed quickly and finished up Friday night, no doubt pushed by the looming start of training camps on Tuesday. Camp will begin on time with a lengthy ramp up period. There will be no preseason games, mandatory cutdowns from 90 to 80 man rosters by August 16th (the day before padded practices begin) and an expanded 16 man practice squad. COVID testing will take place daily to start, including players and staff needing two negative tests before entering the facility at the start of camp. Testing could decrease to every-other-day should the positive rate be below 5%.
On the economical side of things, the 2020 salary cap will remain untouched. The 2021 cap has a floor of $175 million, a $23 million decrease of this year’s cap, with the potential to increase if revenue is high enough. Dave Bryan laid out what that means for the Steelers late last night. It isn’t great news, as you can imagine.
It’ll be a strange season, one unlike any other, but it seems likely the NFL will at least start the regular season on time. What happens from there is harder to project out.
Baseball season began this past week and has gone relatively well, though there’s reminders of COVID’s impact. Hours before the Washington Nationals’ opener, star outfielder Juan Soto tested positive for the virus and was unable to play. More locally for Pittsburgh, several Penguins had to be isolated for potential exposure a few weeks ago while multiple Pirates’ players have tested positive, including outfielder Gregory Polanco and closer Keone Kela.
While there’s significant uncertainty in the world, unemployment above 10%, a looming eviction crisis, and the race for a COVID vaccine continuing, sports will be able to serve as a temporary distraction over these next few months.