Yesterday marked a fairly significant moment for the NFL as the league continues to push toward a 2020 season. Just in time for actual practices to begin, the league lifted the prohibition against teams conducting tryouts for free agent players, which is an integral part of any preseason or regular season process.
Up to this point of the year, except for but a very brief window at the start of free agency, teams had not been permitted to host players at all unless they were under contract, and that has left many veterans in limbo, with teams not wanting to sign them without the opportunity of getting certain questions answered.
While teams may now begin to conduct tryouts for players, effective immediately, it still comes with restrictions if they desire the physical workout to be conducted in-person at the team facility rather than over video, and it starts with the requirement that the player pass two Covid-19 tests.
A player will be tested, for example, on Monday, and then again 24 hours later. If both tests are clean, he may participate in a tryout on Wednesday, but it must be conducted away from any other rostered players, in a separate facility or at a separate time, and no more than eight players may be hosted for a tryout at the same time.
If a player is signed to an NFL contract after the tryout, he must pass a third test before he can participate on the field with his new teammates, so if a player has his testing process begin on Monday, he earliest that he may practice with the team is on Thursday. That would make it difficult for such individuals to participate in their team’s next game, but these are all reasonable precautions.
More simply, a player may also conduct a virtual tryout with a team or submit a tryout video, which would make it much more easy, but he would still have to pass multiple tests before he would be permitted to get on the field with his teammates, assuming that he is signed.
Because of the restrictions that were in place up until yesterday, man veteran players were left in limbo, especially those who may have had lingering injury issues or questions left unanswered. The beginning of training camp saw some veterans signed after being unemployed since the start of the offseason.
This should accelerate that process even further, and ensures that NFL teams can keep an active rolodex of available players throughout the season, which may be more important than ever in the even that a team is hit with an outbreak of the virus and needs to fill its roster beyond what the practice squad can provide.
Here’s more from today’s memo on the NFL lifting the prohibition on tryouts, including free agents needing to pass two COVID-19 tests before they’re allowed on the field, keeping them away from players on the roster, and limit to eight players trying out per day. pic.twitter.com/ThMS2HZCNe
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 11, 2020