NFL training camps are set to open after the league and the players’ union reached agreement on several issues, including future salary cap mechanisms and how players can opt out of the upcoming season because of the coronavirus.
The NFL Players Association’s executive committee and 32 player representatives approved the offers Friday, two people with knowledge of the decisions told The Associated Press.
Players who decide they want to opt out have until Aug. 3 to do so, and they will receive a stipend from the owners, the people said on condition of anonymity because the offer has not been made public. The amount of the stipend will be $350,000 for medical opt outs and $150,000 for voluntary opt outs.
That agreement eliminated one major obstacle to a full opening of training camps next week. Already, the sides had agreed to cancel all pre-season games, as well as to a reduction in the number of roster spots in training camp from 90 to 80 – though teams will have until Aug. 16 to get down to 80.
The league also offered an extended acclimation period of 18 days for players, given that the coronavirus caused the cancellation of all off-season on-field activities at team facilities. Training camps are to open Tuesday, though the Texans and Chiefs, who meet in the season opener Sept. 10, have veterans scheduled to arrive this weekend for COVID-19 testing.
Many economic issues were settled, including how to handle revenue losses that would result from games played without fans or even cancelled games because of COVID-19. The league has proposed a minimum salary cap of $175 million for 2021; this season’s cap is $198.2 million.
Should the 2021 salary cap decrease – a very likely outcome – caps through 2024 would be adjusted to cover some of that drop-off. That way, the cap wouldn’t plummet too far.
The cap has increased exponentially since 2014, going up by $10 million or so annually.
Practice squads will be increased to 16 players if the league’s proposal is accepted by the union, The Washington Post reported Friday. Four such players could be protected weekly from being exposed to other teams.
Actual practices in camps won’t begin for about three weeks.