According to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are strongly considering bringing back some of the rules put in place specifically for the 2020 season.
Nothing official, but all signs point to the NFL and NFLPA keeping in place for 2021 several of last year’s COVID-related changes to roster rules, including unlimited/faster return from IR and 16-man practice squads, per sources. Those tweaks were popular with teams and players.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 2, 2021
As Pelissero notes, nothing is yet official. But both sides thought that two of last season’s COVID-related changes — including changes to injured reserve rules that allowed faster (and unlimited) returns, along with expanded 16-man practice squads — worked out very well.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed a year ago, practice squads were already set to increase from 12 to 14 players for the 2022 season — and the number of practice squad players with any amount of NFL experience was set to increase from two to four. In 2020, six players with any amount of experience were allowed on the expanded practice squad rosters. Presumably, both sides also want to extend that part of 2020’s practice squad rules, as it will help teams deal with the longer 17-game season.
The league and NFLPA have a lot of items to negotiate as they work toward the post-COVID NFL season. Final agreement on all of them is not expected until the beginning of training camp at the end of July. But right now, it looks like at least two COVID-related changes from 2020 will be back for 2021 — and could become permanent.