The NFLPA has corrected the total number of positive tests among players from 95 to 59, which eliminated positive tests from around the league that were not from players.
Why It Matters: This is a better number, but still not as important as the number detected as players are tested before showing up to camp. There will be some, perhaps 100 or more testing positive as they report to camp, which shouldn’t be considered a death kneel for the season, but instead the foreseeable first big test for the teams and players to have guidelines and behave in a way to limit spread.
NFLPA leadership said roster sizes are expected to be at 80 at the open of camp
Why It Matters: There has been talk for a while of undrafted free agents being in a much tougher situation this year. This development would make that a reality, although perhaps an expansion of practice squads could help. 2020 isn’t the year for underdog stories in training camp.
The NFL has agreed to have no preseason games this year
Why It Matters: Rookies can use preseason action to get acclimated and position battles can often be decided on the field. That won’t happen this year, but preseason ADP spikes after big performances won’t be cluttering our analysis, either. Preseason is when we get our first look at rookies, which often reveals who is going to translate right away, so this development will keep us in the dark and putting extra emphasis on those first few games as fact finding. Preseason DFS has been lucrative for some, but won’t be available this year in a blow to creating excitement around the preseason.
Antonio Brown indicated that he is retiring on Twitter earlier this week and then posted something on Instagram calling for the league to resolve his investigations so he can proceed with teams that are interested in his services
Why It Matters: Brown has been a favorite late round pick of some, and while this seems to confirm interest from multiple teams, it’s uncertain what they will think about Brown’s erratic presence on social media. Since he did this last year and the Patriots still signed him to a deal with significant pay, chances are the interested teams have already factored this into the equation. Brown’s outlook probably isn’t changed by the events of the past week, but if his 2020 ends up derailed like his 2019, we can’t say we didn’t see it coming.
Tom Pelissero, of NFL Network, reports that NFL owners are pushing for the salary cap to be lower in 2020 and 2021, which GMs and the NFLPA believe will result in veteran releases and restructures. The NFLPA wants to spread the financial hit through 2030, according to Pelissero. Charles Robinson, of Yahoo, reports that the other major sticking points are player compensation if the season is shortened or halted, and what conditions would trigger a halting of the season.
Why It Matters: The harsh reality is that football is not on for 2020 until these issues get resolved. Major league baseball had a much uglier and protracted war in the court of public opinion and got their issues worked out, so we should still be optimistic that something will get done, hopefully by Sunday when Chiefs and Texans rookies are supposed to start conditioning. If that doesn’t matter, Pelissero reports that the league could inform teams that virtual work will continue indefinitely. If the cap is lowered in 2020, most teams can deal with via restructures unless it is significantly more than 10 million.
DT Ed Oliver’s DWI and weapons charges stemming from an incident in May have been dismissed.
Why It Matters: Oliver’s tests all came back clean. It was believed the league might suspend him, but he should avoid any punishment for what seems like a non-story. Oliver could be poised for a big second year on a Bills team that is more ready than ever to make a run at a division title.
Why It Matters: Hilton’s injury-marred season with Jacoby Brissett has caused his ADP to fall to WR3 range even though he was a perennial WR1 with Andrew Luck. Philip Rivers represents an improvement from Brissett, but just how long is hard to gauge with Rivers appearing to be in his decline phase last year. Either way, Hilton is a value at the current price.
New York Jets
Owner Woody Johnson was investigated by the state department for making sexist and racist remarks. Mike Freeman of Sportico reports that according to a player text, Jets players are unhappy and it “hinted there might be some sort of coordinated statement speaking out against Johnson from players around the NFL, not just Jets.”
Why It Matters: Jerry Richardson had to give up the Panthers, but there is no sign that Dan Snyder will be forced out of Washington ownership and Johnson might be equally difficult to remove on the basis of just this story, no matter how many players speak out against him. Unfortunately this can probably just be filed under secondary problems for a Jets team that is coached by Adam Gase.
Los Angeles Rams
Cameron DaSilva of the Rams Wire reports that Sean McVay indicated that the Rams might emulate the 49ers backfield committee this year.
Why It Matters: Some will dismiss this as coachspeak, but the key part of the comments is that McVay liked the idea of being open-minded and going with the hot hand or the most deserving player. He also included John Kelly on the list of the Rams four “legitimate starting quality” running backs. This situation could be fluid through camp and during the season, which perhaps points to a slower start for Cam Akers and patience being necessary if you take him in a redraft league.
Head coach Mike Zimmer signed a multi-year extension
Why It Matters: Zimmer was set to coach this year without a contract next year, which can often spell the end of a tenure if a team underperforms. This firms up that uncertainty and also erases any sense that general manager Rick Spielman was also getting farther out on the plank.
Why It Matters: Cronin cites new CBA rules that fine a player $50,000 for every day of camp that they miss and makes those fines stick even if a new deal is worked out. She also brings up Rick Spielman’s history of working out extensions near the beginning of camp, but adds that Alexander Mattison was drafted last year as a “potential Cook replacement” and he would be ahead of a combination of Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah to get work if Cook has a prolonged absence.
Ian Rapoport reports that Raheem Mostert met with a high-ranking member of the 49ers organization to “clear the air and get on the same page”. Agent Brett Tessler said hopefully the situation will be worked out.
Why It Matters: Mostert isn’t looking to reset the running back market, he just wants to be paid the same as Tevin Coleman, whom he outplayed last year. It would just cost the 49ers a few million dollars. Alternatively, the 49ers could sign him to an extension that rewards him in the future if he continues to play at a high level under his current deal. Mostert and his agent could also decide that it is worth to play under his current contract after cooling off. This is a positive step, but far from a resolution.
Why It Matters: The matches the speculation from Mark Cook of the Pewter Report earlier this offseason that Jones would have to fail greatly in camp or get hurt to lose his starting job. Ogunbowale is clearly the best passing down back on the roster, and Vaughn will have to fit in as depth at first if this is correct. Rookies can also impress enough in camp to earn a larger role than planned, but no preseason will make that more difficult. Vaughn is probably being overdrafted and Jones underdrafted.
Washington will be called the Washington Football Team for the 2020 season
Why It Matters: There will be no new nickname for the Washington team this year, probably in part because of intellectual property issues and the undertaking to make all of the necessary changes before a season that is scheduled to start in a month and a half. Sports outlets that were not using the old nickname and calling them the “Washington Football Team” were seers.