In the time of COVID-19, sports have become a litmus test for re-opening society. For the NFL, however, they are getting the opportunity to watch the other leagues muddle through the re-opening phase. This gives them an advantage in understanding expectations for teams and players.
Alexis Perry of Broncos TV joined Ryan and Ben on Broncos Country Tonight, and the topic of roster construction came up. As Perry said, the NFL has been very flexible regarding how they would proceed amidst the pandemic. The draft was held virtually, teams are having virtual meetings online, and the NFL is cautiously opening up facilities.
The issue that could be most difficult as the season nears will be what to do when players test positive for COVID-19. As players get in close proximity, the virus is going to spread, but that doesn’t have to mean that whole teams get shut down. What it does indicate is a need for expanded rosters. It appears the NFL might be trying to just that.
NFL practice squads were to expand from 10 to 12 players in 2020. Now, there’s internal talk about expanding to as many as 16 for greater roster flexibility for positive Covid tests, sources tell me and @judybattista. NFLPA would have to co-sign but that’s more jobs for players.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) June 18, 2020
When Kareem Jackson tested positive for COVID-19 it brought up the question about how a player contracting the virus during the season might impact rosters. With an expanded practice squad, and 4 players designated as coronavirus alternates.
The league is making an effort to help teams that could see issues with coronavirus outbreaks in the locker room. Expanded rosters, player designations, emergency alternates, however it come out, the NFL is going to have time to build a system that should help keep the season moving, even if there are issues with COVID-19.