With a trickle of NFL training camps opening around the country, 59 players in total have tested positive for COVID-19 as the league has decided to cut all preseason games in an effort to start the 2020 campaign amid the ongoing pandemic.
Including other individuals within the NFL, such as staff members, who have tested positive, the total number of cases stand at 95, a spokesman for the players’ union (NFLPA) said.
Last week, the union reported that 72 players had tested positive since July 10. As players recover and have ‘multiple negative tests’ they are removed from the tally, the NFLPA spokesman said.
The NFLPA and the league have agreed to daily coronavirus testing for all players during the first two weeks of camp, the spokesman added, confirming a report by ESPN.
Top players had voiced their concern and anger on Sunday over a lack of COVID-19 safety protocols.
‘Our union has been pushing for the strongest testing, tracing and treatment protocols to keep our players safe,’ the NFLPA said in a statement on Monday.
‘The testing protocols we agreed to are one critical factor that will help us return to work safely and gives us the best chance to play and finish the season.’
The league is moving toward a September 10 kickoff for the 2020 season, with attendance likely limited at stadiums across the country due to the coronavirus outbreak.
There will be no pre-season games this year, the NFLPA spokesman said.
Furthermore, the NFLPA told players Tuesday that roster limits will be cut from 90 players to 80 for training camp, according to multiple reports.
Both changes were generally expected, although a firm decision on roster sizes had not previously been reported. Multiple reports on Monday night said the NFL had offered to cancel the full preseason, which the union had strongly recommended.
According to NFL Network, the NFL Management Council Executive Committee still must sign off on the trimmed roster size. Per the report, some had discussed a scenario where teams could choose to keep 10 players on a standby roster, but the union wants all teams to follow one rule.
Most teams rosters have been at 90 or just below for most of the offseason.
Additionally, according to multiple reports, the sides appear close to an agreement on how players can opt out of the season.
ESPN reported opt-out details are not yet firm, but NFL Network said there is a general agreement on voluntary and high-risk opt-outs, with the details being finalized. The MMQB reported the opt-out deadline is still being determined.
Meanwhile, negotiations continue regarding the training camp schedule, as players push for a longer ramp-up period, with more strength and conditioning and limited practices before eventually starting fully padded sessions.
NFL Network reported earlier Tuesday that the NFL’s latest proposal would have strength and conditioning through the first 12 days of camp, then non-padded practices through Day 18, with padded practices starting on Day 20 following a day off. The union’s first proposal asked for three weeks of strength and conditioning and two weeks of non-padded practices.
Rookies and quarterbacks began reporting to teams Monday, with only COVID-19 testing and physicals scheduled for the first few days.
Economic negotiations — namely how to manage the expected revenue shortfall with regard to the salary cap — still have a ways to go, according to multiple reports, but no agreement is required on that subject until games draw near in September.
Per NFL Network, there is a general agreement on stipends for players if games are lost due to the pandemic, but The MMQB reports the league does not want undrafted rookies to be eligible for stipends.
Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), both operating out of a ‘bubble’ at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, reported that no new positive cases came out of their most recent round of testing.
MLS is midway through its ‘MLS is Back Tournament,’ while the NBA is set to resume its season July 30.