While the COVID-19 virus continues to affect much of the United States, the NFL and NFLPA have supposedly worked out an agreement for players who test positive according to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio.
Under normal circumstances, players who get hurt or sick outside of football are placed on the Non-Football Injury list (NFI). This list is generally thought of for college players who suffer a major injury during their last collegiate season or players who get hurt in the offseason while working out on their own. But it can also apply to players who are ill such as Marcus Cannon who started his rookie season on the NFI while getting chemo for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
What does it matter if they put a player on the NFI list?
As the injury or illness is not related to an NFL workout or game, they do not consider the injury or illness part of the NFL and viewed as activities outside the purview of the team. Teams can elect not to pay the player for time missed and if he spends the season on the NFI list, he does not accrue a season towards free agency.
If a player is placed on the active NFI list prior to training camp, once he is removed or practices he cannot return to the list. The player counts against the 90-man roster. If the player is still on the NFI list once the season starts, he will be placed on the reserve NFI list or injured reserve. Once placed on the reserve NFI list, the player does not count against the 53-man roster.
This is why the two sides are aiming to hammer out an agreement that would make players who test positive for COVID-19 a separate designation.
What the supposed agreement entails?
If a player tests positive they will be placed on a special COVID-19 IR designation and be deactivated for three weeks. The player then must be activated within the next three weeks or be placed on injured reserve. Once the initial three weeks is up, he is eligible to return to practice if he tests negative. The two sides have come to the agreement that the player will receive his full pay during the time on the newly created list.
What is not known with the limited information?
What happens at the start of training camp or in preseason? Are these players going to be exempted from the 90-man (or less) roster?
Will they have to remain out for three weeks?
If players come to camp sick and cannot play into the season, will they land on the COVID-19 IR or NFI?
According to Florio, the owners will vote on the agreement sometime today. With so many questions remaining, this would be a significant starting point for the NFL and NFLPA to find common ground on even bigger issues. Any cooperation now may lubricate the more prickly talks, such as what will happen with decreased revenue that will occur during the 2020 season.