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Should NFL rosters be expanded in 2020 due to COVID-19?

The staff at WCG has been talking about some COVID-19 related topics in regards to the NFL, so we wanted to share some of what we think with you guys in this next series of round table questions.

Photo by Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.

In this recent five-part round table discussion, we asked our staff to weigh in on a few topics pertaining to the NFL season in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. So far we’ve had, do we think the NFL will play a full 2020 schedule, and would it be fair if some stadiums had fans while others did not, and here’s how today’s question was posed to our writers.

Should NFL rosters be expanded to help teams get through 2020’s COVID experience? If so, how much and in what format.

Ken Mitchell - Yes, absolutely... and I think the way to do it is by increasing the practice squad sizes even more. That way teams can have players available and still have it be affordable to them.

Jeff Berckes - Yes, that’s an easy fix. Expand the roster size and the practice squad size but don’t alter how the cap is calculated. Also, if we’re doing some type of bubble situation, create a shadow league of 2-4 teams that practice and scrimmage regularly that can be used to fill NFL rosters due to injuries and potential illness replacement. This would also give 100-200 players the opportunity to have that extended training camp / preseason to see if they can contribute to an NFL team.

Bill Zimmerman - The NFL needs to massively expand their rosters. I don’t think there is a need to expand the active rosters, but the practice squads should be tripled (you heard me). They also should take 25 or so practice squad players and keep them completely isolated from the rest of the team because if you have a mini-outbreak and have 15 or 20 positive tests, you need to keep your rosters full or teams will be looking at potential forfeits.

Robert Zeglinski - Keep them as is. 53 men. The structure will already be around a social bubble for half a year. If no one can succeed under those measures, a season was never in the cards.

Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter - The NFL has already increased the limit from 53-man rosters to 55-man rosters, while increasing the limit on designating players to return from I.R. — from two players to three — as well. This would be the perfect time for a developmental league, like the XFL, to be purchased and assigned to NFL franchises. Just like how the MLB assigns AA affiliates to the major league franchises.

Instead of increasing the roster size itself, use the “minor leagues” to their fullest advantage. Develop your bench into quality players by playing them instead of just riding the pine. Plus, far more opportunities for aspiring athletes would open up, and scouting would be made that much easier. It’s a concept that’s begging to be picked up by the NFL and used to make player development that much better.

Sam Householder - I think there should be a special exemption list (I supposed the NFI - Non-Football Injury would work) that allows players with positive tests to go into quarantine and return without long term damage to the team. They will have to make some tweaks to the reserve NFI list though on a one year basis or something to get through it because there’s a lot of restrictions currently that would be detrimental in a COVID outbreak situation.

Jacob Infante - Should they be expanded? Sure. It would be accommodating to many players and give them a source of income for themselves and their families in these trying times. Realistically, though, a roster expansion is likely not financially feasible. Teams and the league itself are likely to lose a lot of money with a lack of full attendance at games - merchandising, parking spots, concessions, and the tickets themselves provide a steady inflow of cash for organizations. The Bears alone will likely lose over $100 million from these altered proceedings this year. That’s not even taking into consideration the possibility of halting the season, likely affecting the NFL’s revenue stream from TV deals to some extent. While it’s the nice thing to do, I don’t think teams or the NFL in general can afford to expand rosters.

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. - At the very least the practice squad players should be allowed to move freely back and forth between that and the active roster for all of 2020. Also, anyone that has to go into quarantine should be able to have their roster spot taken up temporarily while they recover without the team having to put the player on injured reserve.

Editor’s note: The COVID-19 pandemic is a subject that requires sensitivity and care. Many families and people have already been impacted by this crisis as it unfolds. This is a reminder to please express yourself respectfully while also exercising common courtesy in interactions with one another in the comments. All WCG commentary guidelines remain in effect and apply especially. Stay safe and healthy, everyone.


Should NFL rosters be expanded in 2020 due to COVID-19?

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