The NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have come to an agreement on safety protocols in order to fight against COVID-19. The pandemic has caused severe financial drawbacks to the US sports leagues and, because of that, strict safely and health protocols have been established. For the NFL, the idea behind the new agreement is to save the future of the 2020 season.
New Safety Protocols For 2020 NFL Season
All the preseason games were cancelled at the players’ request because the league also seeks to protect players as much as possible from the virus. The league allowed players to have an extended time of adaptation due to the lack of team training due to COVID-19. Some players might not be at its full potential because of the season cancellation, but chances are that they do their best to have a great restart of the season.
The league training camps will open this week as previously discussed after the NFL and the NFLPA reached a deal in regard to the operational and financial consequences of the coronavirus. Although the revenue losses have been high, the league expects to have the season and come back to normal once the virus is under control. Agreements for safety protocols last week include daily tests for COVID-19 for the first two weeks of NFL training camps. This is in order to comply with the safety guidelines set by the NFL union.
Due to the tough current situation, the NFL has shown itself more flexible in regard to certain aspects. One of them is that players are permitted to opt out of the season if they have a medical reason and are considered to have a higher-risk medical condition. In this case, the team members who decide to be out will get a salary of $350.000.
The players who decide to opt out voluntarily will receive a $150.000 stipend; however, in this last case, the amount will be considered a stipend paid in advance and will eventually be taken from future pay checks. In both situations, the multiyear contract for players will pause. The NFL is fair enough with this matter since it is the only major US league to offer a salary for voluntary opt-outs. However, the deadline for this provision is August 3.
Salary Caps To Be Lowered
On the other hand, one of the agreements reached between the two parts was to keep the salary cap at $198.2 million. Then, in 2021 the salary cap will drop to no less than $175 million. Some members are afraid that the stipend might fall below $130 million next year due to the season cancellation, with loss of revenues for the league affecting, as well, individual player remuneration.
From 2022 to 2024, salary adjustments will be applied in order to alleviate the crisis of COVID-19. Players suggested the possibility of having a longer period so they would not feel the salary adjustment that much, but, in the end, the deal will cover a three-season period.
Undoubtedly, the salary limit became one of the most uncomfortable issues in the NFL. It is not because the league does not want to pay more; it is due to the catastrophic impact of the virus not only on the league, but on the rest of the sports events.
The league has made enormous strides to battle against the pandemic crisis; one of them is opening NFL training camps following strict safety protocols. On the same matter, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, “We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel. These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the NFLPA and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], and many state and local public health officials.” Hopefully, the efforts will be enough.