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NFL, players association reach agreement; camps open Tuesday

In this Feb. 3, 2020 file photo NFL

In this Feb. 3, 2020 file photo NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference in Miami.  Credit: AP/Brynn Anderson

The NFL and NFL Players Association ironed out all remaining economic issues related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, paving the way toward the opening of all training camps on Tuesday.

The two sides came to an agreement on Friday afternoon after NFL player representatives approved a plan that would leave this year’s $198.2 million salary cap unchanged and establish a minimum $175 million cap in 2021. In addition, the owners and players can spread any potential losses related to the pandemic over four seasons, beginning in 2021. The players initially had wanted the option of using the remaining years of the current collective bargaining agreement, which runs through 2030, to absorb a potential financial hit.

The NFLPA’s executive committee voted unanimously to approve the changes. The deal allows for 16-player practice squads and permits optouts by players who are concerned about playing amid the pandemic. The two sides earlier agreed to have no preseason games this year, and testing procedures were finalized as well. All players must test negative for the coronavirus on two separate occasions before being allowed to be in their respective training facilities fulltime. Once they are cleared to go in, they will be tested every day for at least two weeks. If the positivity rate falls below 5% after that period, the testing will be done every other day. If the positivity rate doesn’t fall that low, daily testing will continue.

Training camp will be vastly different this year than any other year, with players spending the first 20 days of camp for strength and conditioning, after which practices will begin. There will be a maximum of 14 padded practices.

“We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement after the deal was completed. “These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the NFLPA and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the CDC, and many state and local public health officials. The season will undoubtedly present new and additional challenges, but we are committed to playing a safe and complete 2020 season, culminating with the Super Bowl.”

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