As the calendar continues to inch closer to the NFL regular season, the league is still trying to figure out how to solve multiple problems related to the coronavirus pandemic, and one of the biggest issues right now is whether players will be giving the option of sitting out the season if they don't feel comfortable putting their health at risk.
After several weeks of negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA, it appears the two sides have come to an agreement on the idea of letting players opt out. According to NFL.com, the league and the union intend to give the players the option to sit out, which is potentially huge because it means that any player on any team could choose to skip the 2020 season without facing any sort of penalty.
The opt-out could add an interesting twist to the season, especially if someone's starting quarterback decides not to play.
Under the plan developed by the NFL and NFLPA, there really wouldn't be any strict guidelines with the opt-out. Any player who has a pre-existing condition would be allowed to sit out. Players who have family members with pre-existing conditions would be allowed to sit out. Also, any player who has any concerns about playing during a pandemic would also be allowed to sit out, which would open the door for pretty much any player to sit out the season.
Before the opt-out goes into effect, several things still have to be figured out. One big one is when players would have to opt out by. According to NFL.com, general managers around the league were told this week that the opt-out will come with a hard deadline. Although the date for that deadline hasn't been set, any player who wants to sit out 2020 would have to declare themselves out before the deadline.
The other big question is how teams will handle the contract of any player who decides to sit out. One option would be to have the contract basically stay the same with everything moving forward one year -- but no decisions have been made.
The NFL and NFLPA are also currently negotiating the protocols that players will have to follow at training camp and during the preseason, and you can read more about that by clicking here. One big thing the NFLPA is hoping to get is the cancellation of the entire preseason.
As for other coronavirus-related moves, the NFL has announced several changes over the past few weeks regarding the 2020 season. The biggest move was the cancellation of half the preseason. As for the regular season, the league is still reportedly optimistic that the 2020 season will be able to start on time, despite the recent rash of new COVID-19 cases around the country
From the fans' perspective, things will also have a much different look. For one, stadiums won't be filled to capacity. The top six to eight rows in every stadium will be blocked off with a tarp, and some teams, like the Ravens, have already announced that their stadium will be limited to 14,000 fans. The league is also considering the possibility of requiring fans to sign a waiver if they want to attend a game.