The 2020 NFL season is going to be interesting. Any league holding a season in the face of a pandemic knows it's going to take fortitude and ingenuity. Moving forward under these conditions means the NFL is going to have change their rules about the size of active rosters or practice squads because if there is a season players are going to test positive for COVID-19 and miss time. This is something coaches are already thinking about.
A few weeks ago Bruce Arians appeared on Chris Long's podcast and mentioned that he might consider putting a third quarterback in self-quarantine during the season.
For Arians that would mean Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Griffin would attend meetings from home, but what about practice? These guys can't stay home and throw footballs through tire swings and then be ready to play in an NFL game on Sunday afternoon when Tom Brady tests positive on a Sunday morning. That's good for keeping a quarterback safe, but how can he be prepared if he's never around any teammates? That's something Eagles' coach Doug Pederson is thinking about too. Via NBC Philadelphia:
"“If you do it with the quarterback position, do you do it with a receiver, do you do it with a defensive back, something like that. But these are all things that right now, between now and the time we play are really — or I should say the time we get back to training camp, are the scenarios that we need to as a staff think through and the possibilities. "
There is no perfect solution, but it seems like the NFL should have a pool of players quarantined somewhere to work out and practice together. Ideally though, every team would have their own, full, quarantined lineup... a Quaranteam, if you will. That way, when the left side of the defense gets sick, they have new guys at practice at every position the next day who are already under contract. Guys who know the playbook and have been communicating with coaches all season.
It sounds like a joke, but if the NFL - like every other league - is going to play a season and not let positive tests stop them, they're going to need to do something different. Closing off the first few rows of seats with a tarp and canceling a couple meaningless preseason games isn't going to be enough. They're going to have to expand rosters and spend some more money and embrace that famous Next Man Up attitude football coaches love so much.