Will NFL training camps start on time due to a resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic? If and when they do, will teams have full 90-man rosters participating in them? According to a Thursday report by Adam Schefter of ESPN, team’s will likely have less than 90-man rosters when and if training camps get underway at the end of this month.
“One source said he believed it’s likely that teams will go to camp with 80-man rosters, and another source said it’s ‘definitely not 90,'” Schefter reporter on Thursday. “A third league source said he has ‘heard lots of discussion about 75 players potentially instead of 90’, especially with the reduction in preseason games and teams not needing as many players for camp as normal.”
While the league has yet to state what roster sizes will be for the start of training camps, we might find out for sure by the middle of next week. Several reports the last few days say that the NFL and NFLPA are still trying to work out several complicated details related to the league possibly having training camp, preseason games, and ultimately a full regular season, in a healthy-as-possible environment during the ongoing pandemic.
The NFL is expected to confirm very soon that the 2020 preseason will be cut from four to two games per team. If and when that happens, it’s very unlikely that teams will need 90-man rosters throughout the remainder of the offseason. 75, however, might not be enough, so it will be interesting to see if 80 winds up being the number.
Trimming training camp rosters down from 90 players would likely result in a few younger and inexperienced players on the Steelers current roster to be cut. One of those cuts sure would seem likely to be quarterback J.T. Barrett and especially if starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is cleared to practice at the start of training camp. Several of the team’s ten undrafted rookie free agents might also be out the door before having a first practice as well.
Teams not having any OTA or minicamps this offseason due to the pandemic already has made it extremely hard for back-end of 90-man roster players to compete for 53-man roster and practice squad spots. Having the preseason cut in half makes it damn near impossible for most.
According to Schefter’s Thursday report, the NFL is also considering expanding team practice squads to 16-20 players so that in the event of a coronavirus outbreak within the league; there would be a deeper stash of players to activate to play games with. Schefter also reports Thursday that there’s increasing questions from league sources about whether training camps can stull start on time with the number of coronavirus cases around the country now spiking.
With the July 4th holiday weekend on tap, it will be interesting to see if the NFL passes along new roster and schedule changes by Friday evening. If they don’t, surely by the time next Friday night rolls around they will have done so.