With NFL training camps now set to open in less than a week — July 28 remains the official date — the league and the players association continue to sort out protocols necessitated by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Seahawks are waiting for all details to be finalized before asking their rookies to report, and as of Tuesday afternoon had yet to announce a date when rookies will arrive.
They were originally scheduled to report Tuesday, but for now, the Seahawks are taking it day by day as everything is set.
Here’s more of what happened Tuesday and how it will impact the Seahawks.
No preaseason games in 2020
Things had been heading in this direction for a while now, with reports breaking Monday afternoon that the league had proposed that there be no preseason games after the league last week had hoped to at least play one or two.
Various reports Tuesday stated the league and players have formally agreed there will not be a preseason in 2020, with players contending the games presented an unnecessary health risk.
That means the first time the public is scheduled to see the Seahawks in any game format is the regular-season opener Sept. 13 against Atlanta. Seattle had been scheduled to open the preseason Aug. 13 at home against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Rosters cut from 90 to 80
Various reports also stated players were told during a conference call with the leaders of the NFLPA that rosters likely will be reduced to 80 players for the start of training camp instead of the usual 90. Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reported Tuesday afternoon that the NFL Management Council Executive Committee had not yet signed off on the 80-man roster, though reports said it was expected to be approved.
Cutting the roster will help limit the number of tests that will have to be administered as well as possible exposure and spreading of COVID-19.
And with NFL regular-season rosters at 53, the thought is that having 80 players keeps most of those who have a legitimate shot to make the team.
Still, that means most teams will have to make some significant cuts in the next few days. Seattle has the full 90 players on its roster, so the Seahawks will have to cut down by camp, assuming the 80-man limit goes through.
Some have speculated that will make it harder for undrafted free agents and young players to make the roster.
But teams will still have the ability to cut players and bring back others throughout camp, and teams would likely look first to those they had to cut to get down to 80 to replace any players who are injured or waived.
Practice squads also are expected to increase from 12 to at least 16, which will allow for more opportunities for young players to stick around in some capacity for longer.
One reason to wait to ask rookies to report: Teams have been anticipating that rosters could be cut to 80. Teams wouldn’t want to ask players to report and then immediately cut them.
Ramp-up period still unclear
The structure of the beginning of camp is among the items still unsettled.
The league and players have sorted out details on testing, including that players will be tested every day the first two weeks of camp.
But among significant issues still to sort out is how to handle any potential decrease in revenue this season, how much of that would go on the 2021 salary cap and if it could instead be spread out into future years.
Another is the length of the “ramp-up period” — players have proposed a 21-day period of strength and conditioning to begin camp in an effort to limit injuries because players have done no full-team on-field work since the end of the 2019 season.
The NFL has proposed a shorter ramp-up period with essentially two weeks of strength and conditioning, putting on helmets on Day 14 and putting on pads by Day 21.
In either case, that means teams will not have full pads on until at least mid-August.
Dunbar gets official approval to travel
In Seahawks news not related to COVID-19, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday that cornerback Quinton Dunbar has gotten approval to travel to Seattle for the beginning of training camp.
According to the Herald, prosecutors in the Broward State Attorney’s Office officially agreed Tuesday to allow Dunbar to travel while still continuing “to mull” whether to go forward with the case — Dunbar has been charged with four felony counts of armed robbery in connection with an incident in Miramar, Fla., in May.
The Herald reported Broward Circuit Judge Tom Coleman signed off on the agreement to allowed Dunbar’s travel to camp.
According to the Herald, Dunbar’s lawyer, Andrew Rier, said during a virtual court hearing Tuesday that he spoke to the Seahawks general manager (presumably meaning John Schneider) and Dunbar “would be welcome in camp.”
Dunbar, though, could still be subject to discipline by the NFL, or placed on an exempt list, even without charges having officially been filed. According to the Herald, there remains no timeline for a decision on when Dunbar could be charged.
Dunbar was acquired from Washington in March in exchange for a fifth-round draft choice in 2020 and has been expected to take over the starting spot at right cornerback.