NFL preseason haters, you've finally gotten your wish:
Scrapping preseason games altogether always felt like the endgame in 2020, especially with reports surfacing that getting rid of all four exhibition games was high on the NFLPA's wish list. The final couple bullet points are important to note also, as it's the first time an agreement on voluntary opt-outs and missed game compensation has been made public.
While details are still scarce, with many teams – the Bears included – already reporting to camp this week, the NFL and NFLPA are up against the clock when it comes to ironing out some complicated conversations.
The NFL will meet later this afternoon to "finalize health and safety measures, financial arrangements, and reducing or eliminating preseason games," according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. It appears there's a lot of work left to complete before the gap between the players and owners is bridged, with a critical variable being the number of preseason games (if any).
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the league is ready to back off its stance of two preseason games and shrink the summer scrimmages down to just one game.
Whether this concession by the owners will be enough for players to feel comfortable about their work conditions is yet to be seen. Many of the game's biggest superstars took to Twitter on Sunday to voice their concerns about what they consider an unsatisfactory return-to-work proposal by the NFL. With training camps set to begin this week, there's no time left to waste.
For the Bears, a one-game preseason puts even more pressure on Matt Nagy and the coaching staff to pick the right starting quarterback. Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky will battle for the starting job throughout training camp, which because of COVID-19 will already present challenges that usually don't impact a quarterback competition. Now, with the likelihood that the preseason will be just one game (at best), the Bears' quarterback competition could extend well into September.
We'll update this developing story as more information becomes available.
It's long been rumored, but on Wednesday things became a bit more official: the NFL will reportedly cut the 2020 preseason in half:
Shortening the preseason has been a topic of conversation around the league for a while now, but a new urgency has been attached to the idea because of the ongoing the COVID-19 pandemic. As states continue struggling with rising infection rates, beginning the season on time looks more and more unlikely. The NFL has already altered their season schedule to accomodate for a delayed start or early-season interruption.
It's especially bad news for the Bears, who were planning on using all four preseason games to determine whether Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky would win the starting quarterback job. Without half their preseason games (they'd lose games against Cleveland and Tennessee), things obviously become much trickier.