As part of the protocols for returning to play, NFL teams were given the option of either cutting their roster down to 80, from up to 90 players, prior to veteran reporting date, or to retain 90-man rosters until August 16, the day that practice in pads would be set to begin, at which point all teams would be required to reduce their rosters to no more than 80.
Many teams already began trimming down their rosters. The Arizona Cardinals and the New England Patriots were among the teams who chose to get down all the way to 80 players by Sunday, while others began the process of elimination.
Yesterday, others such as the Baltimore Ravens began making similar moves. They waived four players, while another player opted out of the season, and a sixth was placed on a non-football injury list, a series of moves that brings them closer to a total of 80.
A number of other teams have made headway in trimming down their roster. The Denver Broncos released eight players yesterday to get down to 82. The Buffalo Bills released two additional players, leaving them at 86. The Houston Texans also added a few more releases, and they now stand at 83 players.
Of course, the teams who have had to place players on the reserve/Covid-19 list also have fewer than 90 players on their current roster, but those players would have to be accounted for of they later opt to reinstate them once they are medically cleared to return.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are among the dozen or so teams to have placed a player on the list, doing so with Arrion Springs yesterday. That leaves them at currently 89 players, at least as of this writing. Will they be among the teams who choose to play through half of training camp with more than 80 players?
If they do so, they will be required to adopt a split-squad format, beginning immediately, dividing its roster into two separate working groups.
Teams have to make the decision whether or not to trim their roster down to 80 players by today, at least according to the memorandum that went out pertaining to roster sizes, though if they trim the roster down to 80 players next week, they would be treated like any other team with 80 players on their roster.
With 80-man rosters, teams will be permitted to have all 80 players at their facility simultaneously, including on the practice field. It will be interesting to see how many teams opt to use the split-squad format, though it will still be some time before players actually get in the building, so it may be some days yet. The two squads would either have to work at separate times or at separate facilities, and in the latter case, to use different locker rooms.