We all knew this summer—to say nothing of this fall—were not going to be business as usual for the NFL. There are simply too many factors working against that, and teams are already behind on the kind of work they’d otherwise have done in minicamps, rookie and otherwise.
It’s no great surprise, then, that preseason is the next item on the checklist for the NFL, and that preseason as we know it may change quite a bit. According to NFL insider Tom Pelissero, the NFL and NFL Player’s Association are currently figuring out how to proceed, but teams may wind up with just two preseason games in 2020.
The NFL and NFLPA are discussing the possibility of shortening the 2020 preseason, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 10, 2020
Nothing finalized or imminent, but multiple team executives informed of talks currently believe they could end up playing two preseason games, rather than four.
While I certainly tend to think of preseason games as warmups for the season and effective ways to help decide position battles, the NFL has long treated them like things they have to do in order to squeeze some more ticket revenue out of fans more than anything else. They’ve also long discussed sacrificing preseason games at the altar of a 17 game season, so this gives them an excuse to try that out. Two preseason games will be less live game action for rookies in particular, but it will mean more time to determine medical protocols and so forth, as Pelissero notes in a subsequent tweet.
It’s fair to wonder if the football we’ll see in the first few weeks of the season will be a little sloppier this year with less preseason games, potentially modified training camps, and none of the usual minicamps we’re used to seeing at this point, and how the absence of those things will impact roster construction. I would tend to think rookies, who are new to all this and are experiencing the significant learning curve associated with joining an NFL team more or less on their own.
We don’t have an actual proposal to mull over yet, but I would fully expect the NFL to shorten preseason. We’ll have to see what kind of impact that has on the Falcons and 31 other teams trying to make it through a most unusual offseason.