The NFL responded Tuesday night to the NFLPA’s counter-proposal on coronavirus-related reopening protocols, but a source told ESPN that some important issues remain unsolved, including a dispute over whether COVID-19 should be classified as a “non-football violation”.
According to sources, the NFLPA has made several requests to the league, including daily COVID-19 tests, the elimination of all pre-season games, financial and other compensation for players who choose not to play for COVID reasons, and a provision that The 2021 salary cap will not be lowered due to 2020 revenue losses.
However, a source said on Wednesday that an important sticking point is that the league’s previous proposal would classify COVID-19 as a non-football injury. The players push it back because if a team puts a player on the list of non-football injuries there is no need to pay that player.
If a player becomes infected with the virus during a training session or game and as a result is put on NFI, their team has the hypothetical right not to pay them during their absence. Obviously, the NFLPA is struggling to avoid such a scenario.
Hovering above the discussions is the rise in coronavirus cases in states like Texas, Arizona and California and the increasing likelihood that these states will soon introduce shutdown regulations that would restrict large gatherings. In this case, teams in these states may not be able to hold training camps.
A previous NFL-NFLPA agreement stipulates that teams must hold training camps at their own team facilities this year, and that no team is allowed to open their facility if a team cannot open their facility. For this reason, although the league has insisted on starting training camps and the regular season on time, there is still a possibility that external circumstances may force a delay in the start of one or both.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, formal talks between the NFL and the NFLPA were no longer planned, although it is expected that they will speak again soon. The NFLPA made an internal planning visit Wednesday afternoon to discuss the NFL’s latest proposal, and the union made a pre-scheduled call to player agents later Wednesday afternoon.
Information from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN was used in this report.