The NFL and the NFLPA have already reached some agreements on how to return players to team facilities in light of the Coronavirus crisis in the United States — from daily player testing, to the possibility of opting out of the 200 season, to eliminating most if not all of preseason. The two sides are still continuing their negotiations, though, to create as clear a framework as possible for all involved as players have started to report to training camp.
The latest step reportedly includes reducing roster sizes from the standard 90 down to 80 at the start of training camp, as was first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. While the NFL’s management council has not yet signed off on the reduction, it seems to be a formality at this point: teams will have no more than 80 players on their active rosters when they start camp, with the other 10 either released or possibly on a separate “standby” list.
While such a move may make sense from a player safety perspective, it will cost a combined 320 men across the league their jobs — predictably those who are not in an overly comfortable contractual situation to begin with. Nevertheless, as the old saying goes, drastic times call for drastic measures. A roster size reduction heading into training camp certainly qualifies as just that, especially considering that the union has agreed to it.
The question now is what this means for the New England Patriots. The team will have to make some tough decisions between now and the yet to be announced cut-down day: the Patriots currently have 90 players under contract with one of which, fullback Jakob Johnson, effectively not counting due to his international status. Nevertheless, there is a chance that the team will still have to part ways with 10 players — most of which could come from their 15-man undrafted rookie pool.