There are a lot of people who follow sports and the NFL who just want “normal” back. They want packed stadiums, raucous crowds at the NFL Draft and a typical offseason with plenty of news as teams go through their minicamps and Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
If you would fall into the above category, don’t hold your breathe for those changes to take place this offseason.
First, let’s start with the 2021 NFL Draft. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the event will be taking place as scheduled, but not from Roger Goodell’s basement. As of now the event is still slated to take place in Cleveland from April 29th to May 1st.
“For now, the draft is on in Cleveland from April 29 to May 1. But all the work by clubs leading up to it will be abnormal again.
“The annual scouting combine as we know it is off. Private workouts, facility visits, dinners and film sessions with draft prospects are banned. Medical exams are limited. The only in-person access teams have to prospects are at the recently concluded all-star games and upcoming pro days, where each club will be limited to three representatives on campus — or fewer if required by state and local regulations that in some cases also may restrict in-person contact with players.
Like a year ago, teams will log a lot of hours on FaceTime and probably draft a player or two without ever shaking their hand.”
On top of the preparation and planning for the draft, and the 2021 regular season, there are some changes which happened in 2020 that might just stick around. Pelissero names the expanded practice squad, virtual work to limit offseason practices and a longer ramp-up period to the start of the regular season.
However, as noted by Pelissero, this will all be heading to the bargaining table between the NFL and NFLPA.
“Goodell has already expressed support for some permanent changes to rules on offseason work, such as more virtual training and a longer ramp-up period at the start of training camp. Some other one-year rule changes that were popular with clubs, such as expanded practice squads, have strong support, too.
“All of that is subject to bargaining with the union, as are the COVID protocols that evolved over the course of the 2020 season, with all teams placed in the so-called intensive protocols by mid-November, expanding mask requirements and other restrictions.”
We all want some semblance of normalcy, but it doesn’t look like we will be getting that from the NFL anytime soon. The league might be on their way back to some type of normal, but from the looks of it, it won’t be there just yet.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.