2020 NFL preseason

REPORT: NFL expected to trim 2020 preseason to 2 games

June 10, 2020

The NFL preseason has long been criticized as unnecessarily long. The teams that are unlucky enough to draw the annual Hall of Fame game appear in five games, while the rest of the league plays in four. That’s essentially 16-20 quarters of wear and tear on players’ bodies for nothing more than roster evaluation and a little cardio.

It’s true that the preseason does have some value. Players often make a team because of a big summer showing, especially in the final (and most meaningless) preseason game. But they might not have the chance to do that in 2020, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, who tweeted Wednesday that the NFL is considering shortening the preseason from four games to just two.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented clubs from their normal offseason workout programs and without the strength and conditioning that comes along with those minicamps and OTAs, the risk of injury to the players is substantially higher. And let’s not forget the reality of the novel coronavirus either; the fewer games that are played the less likely for player-to-player transmission.

There’s so much to like about a shortened preseason from a fan’s perspective. Even the most diehard fans struggle to find the motivation to tune-in. But the ripple effect on late-round picks and undrafted rookies will be significant. Without the extra reps to prove to coaches that they can play at a high level, the odds of making a final roster get even worse.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the NFL ever goes back to a four-game preseason schedule if, in fact, they eliminate two games this summer. If a shortened preseason doesn’t impact the product on the field at the start of the regular season, and fewer players get injured as a result, then it’ll be viewed as a massive win for the league even with the lost revenue that two extra summer scrimmages generate.

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