Players have begun to report to team facilities this week, beginning with rookies, however, before all players can enter the facility at once the NFL Players Association needs to approve individual team’s Infectious Disease Emergency Response (IDER) plans.
Today, the NFLPA released publicly the eight teams which have already had their IDER plans approved, which includes the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins.
As of this publishing, the Jaguars have not yet had their plan approved, however, all plans are currently under review, according to the NFLPA website.
Without approval of key plans to return in a safe environment, as presented by the NFLPA’s board, team will not be able to have more than 20 players enter the facility at a time.
While all players are still expected to report to the team’s facility for testing by July 28th, the Jaguars and many teams not yet approved will be able to use time slots to bring in players for testing in order to accommodate all current policies and procedures.
For the Jaguars, their metropolitian area - Jacksonville -, has been noted as having the third-most average daily casses per 100,000 population, per the infographic on the NFLPA website, at 46.53 casses. The highest currently is the Dolphins at 74.39 cases and the lowest currently is the New York Jets/Giants at 3.28 cases.
Earlier this week, the NFL and NFLPA came together in agreement with testing procedures,.
“Our union has been pushing for the strongest testing, tracing and treatment protocols to keep our players safe. The testing protocols we agreed to are one critical factor that will help us return to work safety and gives us the best chance to play and finish the season,” the NFLPA said in a statement on Monday.
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In the agreement, players, coaches and designated staff who interact with them will undergo daily COVID-19 testing through the first two sees of training camp. Following the first two weeks, testing will depend on the positivity rate. If the rate of positivity falls below 5%, testing will be reduced to every other day. Daily testing will resume otherwise, according to ESPN.
Yesterday afternoon, the NFLPA announced on its website, which has since been replaced by the IDER approval graphic, that 59 players in total, since the NFL began testing over the course of several months, have tested positive. These numbers do not, however indicate how many players currently have the virus.
While it has not yet been approved or made official, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the NFLPA leadership told its players the roster sizes are expected to be reduced from 90 players to 80 to start training camp.
In a call with players today, NFLPA leadership said roster sizes are expected to be 80 to start camp, source said. Not a surprise, GMs are working under this assumption.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 21, 2020
Such a change would, of course, be a net-negative for bottom-of-the-roster players and undrafted players who are battling for their shot at making a final 53-man roster. An already uphill battle could be tougher with nearly 320 jobs evaporating in an instant without ever putting cleats to turf in an NFL setting this year.
There are plenty of obstacles yet to overcome for the NFL to resume business as usual, however is is clear the NFL and the NFLPA are inching closer to a resolution which will allow the resumption of the league as we know it. The safety and health of the players are of the upmost importance as they transition to the new normal.