With the clock ticking toward the scheduled starts of training camps on July 28, the NFL and NFLPA are discussing how to do it safely.
And one idea that has apparently been suggested is taking fewer people to camp.
According to Mike Jones of USA Today, there have been suggestions within “NFLPA circles” about reducing rosters from 90 players to 75 or 80. Offseason rosters grew from 80 to 90 in 2012.
There’s no evidence that shrinking the number now is a realistic possibility, but it’s an intriguing theory from the standpoint of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teams will be pushing 150 people or more in a camp setting, once you figure in coaches, athletic trainers and medical personnel, equipment staffs, and the other support services that make these small army march.
So at a basic level, reducing the number of people in camp reduces the number of people who can possibly spread the disease (especially since many if not most of them are coming from hard-hit areas).
And if cutting the preseason from four games to two is a possibility, then the need for so many bodies in camp is lessened. While it cuts into the odds of undrafted rookies to make rosters, teams usually go to camp with many of the roster decisions made in advance.
The flip side to taking fewer players to camp is how to keep practices functioning if there’s an outbreak, which could potentially take large portions of position groups out of play for days at a time.
Of course, the union is also not generally inclined to support ideas which eliminate jobs, but this is a special circumstance, which will require novel solutions.