According to Tom Pelissero, the NFL has notified teams of reporting dates. He included a copy of the memo from NFL Football Operations in his tweet.
NFL clubs just received this email with reporting dates.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 18, 2020
Training camp is on. pic.twitter.com/lya1JtxW4o
According to the memo, rookies are to report on Tuesday July 21, with quarterbacks and injured players reporting two days later, on July 23, and all other players reporting the following Tuesday, 28 July. These dates apply to all teams except Houston and Kansas City, who are scheduled to report earlier because they play the opening game of the NFL season on Thursday, 10 September, while other teams begin their seasons on Sunday the 13th or Monday the 14th.
The league and the players union have not yet agreed to all the protocols dealing with the COVID pandemic, and many other significant issues remain outstanding, including whether there will be any adjustments to how player salaries get paid and whether or not any pre-season games will be played.
One significant item that is subject to negotiation is that of players who wish to “opt out” of the 2020 season. The owners and NFLPA have not yet agreed on the provisions, but Pro Football Talk recently detailed the owners most recent proposal on the issue of players opting out.
A player who opts out will have his contract toll for a full year. He will not receive his base salary or any other payments scheduled to be earned after the date of the opt out, and he will not earn a benefit credit or an accrued season. In 2021, his contract will be reinstated. If he “timely reports for all required activities” in 2021, the opt out will not become a breach of his 2020 contract, which “will not subject him to discipline or forfeiture, will not void any bonuses or guarantees or have any other adverse consequences beyond those set forth herein.”
That’s an important provision. The player who opts out in 2020 can’t hold out or otherwise breach his contract in 2021; if he does, his opt out becomes a breach of his contract, after the fact.
The player who opts out will receive a $150,000 stipend for 2020 — minus any amounts already received by the player in 2020. The balance (up to $150,000) would be treated as an advance on the player’s 2021 base salary. (This implies that players not under contract for 2021 would not be eligible for the stipend.)
Here’s the most intriguing aspect of the opt-out proposal: The NFL’s offer states that “[n]o club may renegotiate a contract with any player who has given notice of his intention to opt out.” As a practical matter, this gives a player until August 1 to use the threat of a potential opt out as leverage to get a new deal.
One last point on the opt out: It’s irrevocable both to the player’s team and as to any other team. Although he can be traded or released after opting out, the player cannot play for any team in 2020, once notice to opt out is received.
The first step in players reporting to camp will be COVID testing before they are allowed to enter the facility although it’s not yet clear how positive tests will be handled. The league and union will continue to negotiate even as camps across the country get underway, and protocols for dealing with playing football in the midst of the pandemic are likely to promote headlines throughout training camp and the balance of the season.