Technically speaking, the process for players to begin reporting to training camp should begin tomorrow. Rookies for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, who play the first game of the regular season, are eligible to report to training camp on Saturday, but they must be tested for Covid-19 two days prior—which would be tomorrow.
Are we anywhere near a resolution between the NFL and NFLPA as to how everything will work? Well, that’s tough to say. A lot of words have been said on either side. A lot of conversations have been had. Not a lot of progress has been made. But things can change in a hurry as the clock ticks forward.
Players continue to express frustration over the lack of answers on what they consider to be key questions, including Eric Ebron, who quoted a Tweet by Tre Boston, in which he expressed this exact sentiment—that we don’t have answers. The Steelers tight end helpfully pointed out that “rookies report next week…”, which is true for all of the 30 other teams, including Pittsburgh…in theory.
So what are some of the key issues for the union that is still on the table? Jeremy Fowler provided some insight into that front on Twitter, noting questions about opt-out clauses for at-risk players and whether players who opt out due to at-risk family members will earn an accrued season. Players also want a stipend if they report and the league is forced to shut everything down.
Mike Florio provides yet more insight into some of the looming issues that remain on the table at the 11th hour of negotiations. He mentions that the NFLPA is still firm on wanting to limit the number of players at a time to 20 in any facility, and to keep it that way until there is a formal Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan put in place, in the event of an outbreak.
Another concern that the union has is what happens if a player tests positive for Covid-19 while his team is on the road, and he is in another state. Will he be forced to quarantine there until he recovers? In terms of football, it wouldn’t actually matter, since he wouldn’t be allowed near his team until he is cleared anyway, but nobody wants to be stuck away from home.
There are many other issues that we have heard about over the past couple of weeks, as well, including what to do about the 2021 salary cap, how to handle player pay in 2020, what sort of practices will be allowed, and what drills within those practices…and oh yeah, whether or not there will be a preseason.
The CBA states that teams must report to training camp 47 days prior to their first scheduled regular season game. If training camp report dates are pushed back, that means the regular season has to be pushed back. The earliest report date is July 25. Things have to be in place before then.