FRISCO, Texas – From the sounds of it, there is an agreement in place to play professional football amid this pandemic.
The NFL and NFL Players Association have voted in favor making necessary changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, allowing the league to conduct business during unprecedented circumstances caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.
Most notably, the agreement will allow for a 16-man practice squad (up from the previous number of 10). There are also provisions for high-risk and general opt outs of participation as a result of COVID-19. As of right now, there is no deadline for when those opt-outs can be taken.
One of the biggest concerns of the NFLPA was about a ramp-up period that will allow players to re-acclimate to football after missing the usual offseason program. The terms of the agreement reportedly allow for a 20-day ramp-up period and a maximum of 14 padded practices before the start of the season. There will be an 80-man roster limit, with a deadline to reach that limit of Aug. 16.
Another big sticking point was about league finances. The agreement reportedly calls for the league to spread any economic shortfalls out over four years. The two sides also set a salary cap of at least $175 million in 2021, allowing the league to raise the cap if financial losses aren't as big as expected.
Player finances are also addressed in the agreement. Reports indicate that a fund will be established to pay back any benefits eliminated as a result of the pandemic. Players who make a final roster will also be paid a $300,000 stipend in the event that the season is canceled. That stipend will still be paid out if the season is canceled before roster cuts, though it will drop to $250,000 per player if that happens.
Further details about the agreement will be forthcoming. For now, the most important detail is that it looks as though the NFL will be able to begin training camp on time.