The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: By the time the regular season begins, the league will have approved of a temporary reserve list that will allow teams to place quarantined players off the 53-man roster and be brought back when they are cleared to return.
Explanation: There have been reports about the NFL potentially creating a reserve list for the 2020 season in response to Covid-19 that will help teams protect their rosters against an outbreak. Presumably, this special reserve list would allow quarantined players to be moved off and back onto the roster relatively easily so that they can be temporarily replaced, without dealing with the limitations of a Non-Football Illness List.
It’s too obviously necessary for this not to happen, and perhaps something like the Commissioner’s Exempt List could already function in this role. If not, something to suit the need can easily be created, and it’s also in everybody’s best interest that it be done.
The alternative is opening yourself up to the possibility of being required to have teams forfeit games because they can’t field enough healthy players, or to postpone those games. What happens if 20 players have to be put in quarantine? You can only field a gameday roster of 33 players without replacing them. There’s just no way that this doesn’t happen.
As hard as it might be to conceive of something so logical not coming to pass, this is the NFL that we’re talking about, here, wherein the definition of a catch is up for annual debate. While it’s a good idea in theory, it requires a lot of logistics to be worked out, and realistically, the NFL doesn’t even have the farm system in place that would allow a team to respond to a large outbreak.
This is also a league driven by money. If given the choice between postponing a game and playing a game without key star players, they’re going to choose the former, because they know the dire effects that they’ll see in the ratings.