COVID-19 Latest: Contracts, Schedule, Tests

Less than three weeks remain until rookies are scheduled to report to training camp. But a host of issues need to be resolved by then for that to happen. Here is the latest on the NFL’s efforts to finalize a new setup for the impending COVID-19-altered season:

  • A key takeaway from Friday’s NFLPA conference call: contracts relating to the coronavirus. Once teams report to camp, players who test positive for the virus will be treated the same way — contractually speaking — as injured players, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. They will be paid. No COVID-19 list — which would accompany teams’ IR lists — has been finalized yet, but something along these lines may emerge given the case records the country is currently setting.
  • With the NFLPA recommending no preseason games occur, the union discussed a practice schedule that includes a 21-day strength and conditioning period to make up for the virtual offseason, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This would help protect players against injuries from being rushed back to full-on practice work immediately. The new CBA called for a short ramp-up period before pads come on, but a 21-day stretch obviously would dwarf the initial padless itinerary. The NFLPA also discussed a 10-day period of padless practices and a 14-day stretch with an eight-padded-practice maximum. These camp blocs would follow the 21-day conditioning span. With uncertainty on the practice and game fronts, the NFL’s August plans are very much in flux.
  • As of now, the expectation is for players to be tested every other day once they report to camp. Players have pushed for every-day testing, however. The NFLPA discussed a scenario of players needing to test negative twice in a 24-hour span, Breer tweets.
  • Players’ concerns the process of returning to work is being rushed do not appear to be swaying the NFL. The league’s plan remains for teams to return to camp July 28. A medical expert on Friday’s call informed players they will need to make decisions on playing this season on an individual basis, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link), pointing to high-stakes opt-out choices. The NFL and NFLPA have not finalized an opt-out plan yet.
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