As of now, the NFL remains hopeful that the 2020 regular season will start on time, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post writes. But the COVID-19 pandemic — which has already had a major impact on the draft, free agency, and offseason activities — could delay the start of training camp, and an adjustment to the regular season still looms as a real possibility.
In addition to the obvious health concerns, there are also competitiveness issues to consider when it comes to training camp. If the league tries to proceed as normal and a player tests positive for coronavirus — thereby forcing that player’s team to cease operations — the team is suddenly at a major competitive disadvantage. Similarly, Maske reports that the NFL will soon look into how many teams have closed their facilities and how many have not to determine if significant fairness concerns already exist.
One way or another, it seems as if offseason programs, including minicamps and OTAs, will be canceled entirely. As one league owner told Maske, “I would be shocked if we had any kind of offseason program at team facilities.” The same owner also said it is too soon to tell what the league will do with respect to training camp.
As Maske observes, any change to the regular season may require a corresponding shift to the Super Bowl, which would be a Herculean task. Executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, Rob Higgins, told Maske that there has been no discussion of contingency plans at this time.
Earlier today, we heard that the NFL is moving forward in negotiating new TV deals.