Friday's NFL: Owners, players agree to structural changes to play during pandemic

Detroit News wire services

The NFL and NFLPA executive committee have agreed to structural changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) as the league gets ready to attempt to play football during the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal now just needs the approval of the league’s 32-team player representatives.

Among the headlines coming out of the agreement are that teams will have until Aug. 16 to reduce their roster to 80 players, according to NFL Network. The Network’s Ian Rapoport also reported that players will only be paid for games played in the event the pandemic forces the league to cancel games. But the players would get the money owed on their contracts at a later date.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

The salary cap for the 2020 season will remain untouched at $198.2 million dollars. However, that number will drop to $175 million for the 2021 season. That $175 million figure for 2021 is fluid depending on revenue for the upcoming season.

Obviously, the 2021 salary cap number will hinge on the NFL’s ability to play as many games as possible.

The NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the owners originally wanted a salary cap of $165 million in 2021 and dropped their request for chopping $8 million of the 2020 cap.

The NFLPA executive committee unanimously agreed to the proposed changes.

Former Giants and current Houston Texans safety Michael Thomas, the vice president of the NFLPA, voiced his pleasure with the agreement on his Twitter account.

“We voted to recommend this proposal to our board,” Thomas wrote. “We fought and worked to get our membership the answers they needed. Player Health & Safety is our priority. As well as protecting our future. #WeWanttoPlay.”

Practice squads were bumped up to 16 players from 12 players, meaning that NFL rosters can have a maximum of 69 players this year with the already established 53-man regular season rosters. NFL players will have until Aug. 3 to opt out for the 2020 season if they do not feel comfortable playing in the current health crisis.

The agreement will allow training camp to begin on time. Sports Illustrated reported that teams can begin practicing 16 days after they arrive for training camp, which means most teams will begin practice in mid-August.

Bears cancel season tickets

The Bears canceled season ticket packages on Friday because they’re not sure how many fans — if any — will be allowed at Soldier Field due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Team President Ted Phillips cited “a need to reduce the seating capacity to build a plan that allows for social distancing” in a letter to season ticket holders. He said the Bears “continue to work closely” with city and state officials as well as public health experts.

Season ticket holders can get refunds for this year or have their payments credited toward 2021.