The Kansas City Chiefs — and the rest of the NFL — could be getting some roster help for the 2020 season.
According to a report from NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, there is “internal talk” about expanding the practice squad to 16 players for the coming season, so that if players were in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, teams would have more flexibility in replacing them on game days.
NFL practice squads were to expand from 10 to 12 players in 2020. Now, there’s internal talk about expanding to as many as 16 for greater roster flexibility for positive Covid tests, sources tell me and @judybattista. NFLPA would have to co-sign but that’s more jobs for players.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) June 18, 2020
Under the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), practice squad size was already set to increase from 10 players to 12 in 2020. In addition, the new CBA gave teams additional options to more easily move players from the practice squad to the active roster for individual games.
This could end up being an important issue. Earlier this week, multiple players from both the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys tested positive for COVID-19. On Wednesday, a Denver Broncos player was also reported to have tested positive. If this were to happen during the season, these players would have to be isolated for a period of time — and teams would need to have players ready to take their places.
As Garafolo noted, the NFLPA would have to agree to making the change — but it might be a easy decision for the union. Larger practice squads would mean more players with jobs.
It’s also likely that with the lack of traditional OTAs and minicamps this offseason — and perhaps only two preseason games — teams wouldn’t mind having a way to keep a few more players close at hand. At the final cutdown, teams will have to make roster decisions with far less information than they are accustomed to having; after a topsy-turvy offseason, an immediate practice squad expansion might give some marginal players a better chance to show teams what they can do.
Right now, this is simply an idea that is being discussed. But it shows that the league is working to figure out a way to make the 2020 season happen with as little disruption as possible.