As the NFL begins implementing steps to play in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, a change to the rosters may be on the horizon.
“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 [sic] tests, sources tell me and [Judy Batista],” tweeted NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
He also noted that the NFLPA would have to sign off on the move, but it’s hard to imagine the players’ union wanting fewer jobs for their members.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott discussed the importance of having quality depth this week, specifically mentioning a positive COVID-19 player as a possibility.
“I think the reality of this year in particular is what happens if said player comes down with the virus and so even more important that that you have depth and quality depth,” said McDermott Wednesday. “In this case as you mentioned at the quarterback position, and any position for that matter, so it’s something that we take seriously, making sure that our depth is what we need it to be. And then as coaches we also have to make sure that we’re developing those players as well, giving them just as much time, because that’s a challenge as a coach. Just kind of giving you guys an inside look at how do we split our time up? How many reps do we give the backups? To get them not only to show what they’ve got, but also to get them ready to play at a high level. So it’s a constant feel day to day with reps and the plan for the reps.”
Typically, a player with a sickness could still play in an NFL game. With much more stringent guidelines surrounding COVID-19, that won’t be a possibility for two weeks or more. Being able to call up a player who has already been in your system to replace a sick player on the active roster would be best. This is one more way to add that depth.