Philadelphia Eagles News

Taking you inside the new rules for NFL play, 2020

As the news broke on Friday night that the NFL and the Players Association agreed to the terms of the protocols put in place for the safety of players, coaches, and team staff, it became official: Training Camp in the NFL is scheduled to start on time. What does that mean for the Eagles? Rookies and first-year players were at the NovaCare Complex on Saturday and Sunday taking physicals, getting fitted for equipment, and continuing to learn remotely. The remainder of the team reports to South Philadelphia on Tuesday.

We have football in the works at the NovaCare Complex! It's just going to look a lot different than in previous years. Let's get an understanding of what the league has in place for the season ahead.

Roster sizes

Teams can either cut down to 80 players prior to July 28 when veterans report or they can make those cuts between reporting date and August 16, the last day before padded practices can begin. If they choose to wait until after July 28, team activities must be conducted in a split-squad format with two separate groups in the building at different times. 

On players opting out

Any player may opt out of participating in the 2020 season. If they decide to do so, they must provide written notice by a certain date that is agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA. Those decisions are irrevocable and the players will receive a stipend but not an accrued season. 

Practice squads

The agreed-upon deal includes an allowance for 16-man practice squads. A notable additional change to practice squads this season is that six of those players can have an unlimited number of accrued seasons.

No preseason

The four-game preseason of the past, long discussed and speculated on, has been officially eliminated. The next time you see the Eagles on the field in game action will be against Washington on September 13.

Salary cap

According to reports, the 2021 season's salary cap will be no lower than $175 million. If revenues are better than expected, it could be higher. If worse, it would have to be accounted for in future years through 2024. But a cap minimum to assure a reasonable floor in 2021 was reportedly important to the players.

If games are canceled ...

The other most important financial agreement reached Friday is that players will only be paid if games are played. If the league is forced to cancel games because of the pandemic, players will not be paid. The expectation is that if the league can get on the field and through Week 1, players will receive credit for accrued season and benefits.

Training Camp Schedule

• Day 1: Players receive their first COVID-19 test and screening for coronavirus. They will then return home.

• Day 2-3: Virtual meetings, with encouraged self-isolation at home.

• Day 4: Players will take their second COVID-19 test and return home.

• Day 5-6: Players who have two negative tests can enter the facility to take physicals and go through equipment fittings.

• Day 7: Players begin eight days of strength and conditioning work. Those sessions will be limited to 60 minutes in the weight room, 60 minutes of aerobic conditioning. Coaches will be allowed to lead an hour-long walk-through on those eight days.

That conditioning period will be followed by four days' worth of unpadded practices, where players will wear shells and helmets.

On August 17, teams can practice in pads for the first time; they will be allowed 14 padded practices in total.

August 8 will be a mandatory day off across the league, after which teams will be required to give players one day off per every seven days of work.

Those are the rules. The NovaCare Complex has been remodeled, and I will have exclusive details of that here and in the Eagles Insider Podcast. It's a fascinating situation in which an entire organization has come together to provide a safe, socially distanced environment in which the Eagles can thrive from the moment they enter the building. Enjoy the weekend, stay safe and healthy, and, finally, we know something for certain: We have an Eagles season to look forward to enjoying together!

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