The NFL is reportedly considering shortening the preseason by two games.
In the face of COVID-19 and safety measures that continue to be taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the National Football League is reportedly considering the possibility of shortening the typical preseason schedule by half—moving from four games to only two for each franchise.
NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero is the one with the breaking news, saying “nothing is finalized or imminent” at this point. However the move makes sense given how even training camp dates have yet to be finalized and how many offseason activities have already been delayed.
The NFL has been fairly fortunate, of all major sports, this offseason given the timing of its regular season schedule compared to others. While other pastimes were forced to cancel games or even the bulk of a season, the NFL was able to continue its offseason calendar as planned. The NFL Draft was still held over the weekend it was initially planned, despite going digital, and free agency came and went without much complaint—although getting physicals were a concern for teams looking at players returning from injury.
However, one area in which the league has felt the presence of the global pandemic is in a team’s ability to reconvene. Coaches were just now allowed back at team facilities and it’s unknown exactly when players—who are not rehabbing injury at least—will be allowed to do the same. Offseason training activities were all cancelled, and every aspect of coaching, meeting, or mentoring has moved to online services like Zoom.
Cutting the NFL offseason would allow teams to keep players away from team facilities a bit longer in ongoing efforts to flatten the curve. It would also affect a team’s ability to sort out the competition for spots on the active roster. How can a rookie really turn heads when he only has two games to show what he can do and those same games are going to be needed for veterans to get loose?
It will be interesting to see how teams adjust to a shortened preseason, if that becomes an official move. Some teams like the Chiefs should be well prepared given the hurdles because of the amount of championship experience returning to the team. Running it back might come with fewer issues than originally thought.