Reports: NFL agrees to zero preseason games, daily COVID-19 tests

Update 7:27 p.m. ET:

In the NFL’s latest proposal, the league offered to cut the entire preseason, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The report follows earlier news that the NFL continued to push for one preseason game on the schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The NFL and the NFL Players Association are still negotiating over COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and the number of preseason games is wrapped up in that battle. The NFLPA wants zero preseason games to allow for a longer acclimation time during the coronavirus pandemic, but the NFL hasn’t gone that far yet — though they are inching closer.

Also on Monday the league and the union agreed to daily coronavirus tests for players after they have tested negative twice in tests that are administered at least 72 hours apart, according to a memo sent out on Monday afternoon.

“Our union has been pushing for the strongest testing, tracing and treatment protocols to keep out players safe,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “The testing protocols we agreed to are one critical factor that will help us return to work safely and gives us the best chance to play and finish the season.”

New proposal calls for one preseason game

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on Monday morning that the NFL’s newest proposal to the NFLPA reportedly includes just one preseason game. That’s less than their previous proposal, which reportedly cut the preseason from four games to two. Those two games would have given each team one home game to test out their COVID-19 protocols.

The proposed single preseason game would reportedly take place Aug. 27, which would normally be Week 3 of the preseason. With the players reportedly seeking a 21-day strength and conditioning ramp-up prior to the start of the season, which was recommended by the NFL and NFLPA joint medical committee, that extra week would almost get them to that mark (17 days instead of 21). However, playing any preseason games at all is more than the NFLPA wants.

The NFL is still insisting on playing preseason games amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
The NFL is still insisting on playing preseason games amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Players call out NFL on social media

The NFL’s newest proposal comes a day after numerous NFL players, including Drew Brees, J.J. Watt, Patrick Mahomes, and Richard Sherman, used social media to criticize the NFL for its lack of safety protocols. Rookies are expected to report Tuesday, and the NFL has yet to set guidelines for how often players will be tested, what teams will do if a player tests positive, and how long the preseason acclimation period will be.

These issues concern numerous players, especially those with pregnant partners. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tweeted his concerns Sunday, and was followed by Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Both have pregnant wives.

Pelissero summed up the players’ tweets in a single tweet of his own, pointing out that the NFL ignored the advice of its own committee in attempting to squeeze in two preseason games. The single preseason game would almost solve that problem, but the acclimation period would still be four days short of the recommended 21 days.

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