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 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 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 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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