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How will the lack of offseason practice time affect NFL rosters in 2020?

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.

NFL: Chicago Bears-Minicamp Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Mini-camps and OTAs didn’t take place this offseason, the NFL has already cancelled the Hall Of Fame game, and there’s been some speculation that the preseason could be cut in half as well. So...

Knowing what we know now about the truncated offseason/preseason schedule, how do you expect the selection of the 53/55 man roster and practice squad to favor experience over potential (if at all)?

Ken Mitchell - I think the 53 / 55 man roster will be more veteran guys with few rookies, while the practice squad will be where a lot of the young guys are this season.

Jeff Berckes - It probably depends on where a team sees itself to how much risk they’re willing to take on player upside, but let’s remind ourselves that the biggest talking point about the Nick Foles trade was it was safe in the face of no camp for the Bears. Most teams think like this and go with what they know and what is safe.

Bill Zimmerman - I would expect the NFL to abandon the rules about the veteran limit on practice squads for this season, or form another squad of veterans that has players that can be activated due to players on the 55-man roster contracting COVID-19. We are learning that cases are inevitable on teams. The NFL teams should be under the assumption that they will constantly be dealing with positive tests and have infrastructure in place on the rosters to handle it, not just cross your fingers and hope.

Robert Zeglinski - Experience will be paramount. Practice squad players and undrafted free agents picked (if they could pick) the wrong summer to be on the bubble. The age of training camp heroes and underrated preseason stars is put on hold for at least one year. It was already difficult to lift one’s self up to the gameday roster from the edge. It’ll be virtually impossible under all circumstances this year. Experience takes time to gather, and experience means comfort with a variety of schemes and plays where teaching is limited. Inexperienced players don’t have any time.

Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter - For a team like the Chicago Bears, where there is a decent mix of youth and experience, I do not expect to see any changes made to how players are evaluated. I believe potential will trump experience as Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are planning on entering “win now” mode once the 2020 regular season begins. On the same note, if the team were filled with rookies, then I would expect experience to be a heavier weight in roster evaluations.

Sam Householder - I think experience is going to matter more than ever. You’re going to see teams gravitate toward filling their allotment of the more “veteran” players to the practice squad spots (teams can keep up to four players with two accrued seasons of play), teams will max out those spots this year and favor to keep more veteran type players, so long as they can fit in under the cap.

Jacob Infante - I think that depends on what semblance of a training camp or preseason we see this year. Judging on how I think things will go, I do believe that there will be fewer opportunities for undrafted free agents and younger, more unproven prospects to showcase their talents. It won’t be impossible for them to shine, I’m sure, but it could prove to be more difficult. It all really depends on how things fall into place over the next two months.

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. - Allowing teams to keep all their rookies around, that can’t make the opening day roster, on their practice squads would make a lot of sense this season. Teams will need as many plug-and-play veterans on the active roster as possible this year just in case. A possible lack of practice time will not only hurt the cohesiveness of the offense and defense but the special teams units as well. I would expect the vet free agent market to pick up as teams get closer to the regular season.

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.

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