As has previously been reported, the NFL has been in talks about trimming down the 90-man rosters that teams would ordinarily bring with them to training camp, with 80 players often cited as the likely target. This was the number for offseason rosters prior to 2012, so it would only be returning to what it once was.
The reason for the desire to reduce roster sizes, at least for now only temporarily for the 2020 offseason, is in an attempt to reduce the risk of transmitting the Covid-19 virus that has infected approaching 3 million Americans as of this writing. Several outbreaks have already been seen on college teams.
In addition to the reduction in roster size, the NFLPA is also proposing split squads for training camp. During the first three weeks of camp, they recommend that groups of no larger than 20 players work together at the same time. During the middle leg of camp over 10 days, over non-contact practices, the roster could be split into two 40-player groups.
There would still be two weeks of practices remaining after this period, during which a full-squad, contact-capable practice would be permitted, under the NFLPA’s recommendation. The NFL, of course, is not under obligation to accept wholesale the union’s recommendation.
As you know by now, the union has also officially recommended that no preseason games be held at all, while the NFL remains set on conducting two preseason games (down from the typical four). The league technically does not need the go-ahead from the union to reduce the preseason, nor to hold on (up to four games) at all.
The two sides continue to talk in an attempt to set up guidelines for a return to play as teams begin their preparations to open up training camp at the end of the month. The report date for nearly all teams is July 28, which is about three weeks away.
How the divided squads would work is not immediately clear, but that would be part of the discussions between the two parties. Obviously, they could have different position groups working at different times in shifts, with the relevant coaches involved at those times.
Technically speaking, there is no limitation on how much times coaches can spend at training camp on the field. The CBA only provides a structure regarding how much time players are permitted to be required to be on the field. So if Mike Tomlin wanted to be on the field eight hours with four different groups for two hours each, he presumably can do this.