Ordinarily, we’d be all fired up right about now with training camp getting underway. Well, it’s starting, but it isn’t really starting. Here are some random thoughts about the agreement between the NFL and NFLPA to allow camps to start, and some other New York Giants-related topics.
As we know, the NFL and NFLPA on Friday reached an agreement that will allow training camps to open as scheduled. I listed some of the parameters of the deal on Saturday morning. I thought today, with time to reflect and with more information having surfaced about the agreement, that I would offer my thoughts on some of the deal’s specifics.
16-player practice squads
I love this. The league and the players had already agreed to expand practice squads to 12 in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new deal adds four more players, and allows teams to protect four players each week who cannot be pilfered by other teams and added to their 53-man rosters.
My understanding is that six players on the practice squads can be veterans with unlimited experience, a big change from years past when there have been strict limits on who was eligible for practice squad spots. I love that, too.
Both of these changes will, I believe, help teams field rosters each week filled with players who have been with a team, who know the system, and whom coaches are familiar with.
Other sports have allowed players to opt out, and I’m glad the NFL is also doing this. Everyone is in a different situation and health and safety is more important than football.
Training camp schedule
The fact that there are no preseason games allowed the league and players to agree to a gradual ramp up to full football activities. Players really won’t practice fully until mid-August. It’s going to be weird, but I think it’s a good thing.
Many players have done considerable training on their own, but some haven’t. Without spring practices, players will be susceptible to soft tissue injuries and the extended ramp up should help alleviate some of that. It’s a lesson learned from the 2011 lockout season.
I have mixed feelings about the agreement to give teams two options for their rosters. They can cut down to 80 players now, or wait and do so on August 16 — right before full on-field practices should begin.
In my view, I wish the league and players had just cut the cord and forced the cut down to 80-man rosters now. It’s really going to stink for players who hang around for the next few weeks, go through multiple COVID-19 tests, sit through dozens of virtual meetings, go through conditioning workouts, then get cut after all that without ever actually getting to practice.
It stinks no matter what for the players who will be jettisoned, but delaying the inevitable seems even more cruel.
The league and players agreed to spread the potential revenue losses over four seasons beginning in 2021. I’m glad the 2020 salary cap was not touched. Teams built their rosters and spent their money based on the existing cap, and cutting that cap would have forced many teams to cut players they had planned on having. That didn’t seem right, so I’m happy that won’t happen.
A bubble without a bubble
Pro Football Talk reported Sunday that part of the deal is that there will be strict limits on player activities off the field. Per PFT:
Players cannot attend indoor night clubs, indoor bars (except to pickup food), indoor house parties (with 15 or more people), indoor concerts, professional sporting events, or indoor church services that allow attendance above 25 percent of capacity.
Players can be fined for violating these rules. Moreover, if they test positive after engaging in prohibited activities, they will not be paid for the games they miss. Also, future guarantees in their contracts would be voided.
Players will be going home to their apartments or houses, to their families or whoever they live with. This won’t be easy for many of these guys, used to having freedom to move around and enjoy whatever spare time they do have. I have zero problem with it, though. It’s all part of the whole thing we keep talking about with the pandemic still raging across the country — your decisions aren’t just your decisions. They have potentially serious health ramifications for other people.
Like it or not, there are just some things we can’t do right now. Professional athletes included.
DeAndre Baker situation
You have likely seen the report that as of Friday the Giants had not told DeAndre Baker, still facing felony charges in relation to an alleged armed robbery, to stay away from training camp.
It seems as though the information keeps changing in the Baker case. I still have serious doubts that Baker begins the season with the Giants, and wonder if he ever suits up for them again.
To their credit, though, the Giants have been extraordinarily patient in trying to wait until fact is separated from fiction in this seemingly crazy case. They have done everything they can to be fair to Baker, to make a fully-informed decision on his future with the organization.
Duvernay-Tardif deserves praise
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of the Kansas City Chiefs is so far the only NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season.
Duvernay-Tardif, a medical school graduate from McGill University in Canada, has been serving as an orderly in a long-term care facility during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system,” he wrote. “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”
Putting the health of others and helping those in need during a time of crisis rather than playing football. I applaud Duvernay-Tardif for having his priorities in order and showing the kind of selfless humanity I wish more people had.