Thousands of tests and billions of dollars lost.
Those were among the highlights from the NFLPA's conference call with player agents outlining the safety and financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic as the NFL prepares for the 2020 season.
On a call including executive director DeMaurice Smith, president J.C. Tretter and medical director Thom Mayer, the union said players could be tested roughly every three days for the virus and isolated if testing positive, according to a source on the call.
The union said it's working with the NFL on return-to-work protocols for players, and when discussing salary-cap implications, agents were told the NFL could lose around $3 billion in total revenue if teams play in empty stadiums in 2020.
Multiple league execs tell ESPN they loosely expect teams to report to training camp in late July, as planned, but an extended ramp-up period of testing, conditioning and football activities could replace the first two preseason games. Quarantining players before they take the practice field has been discussed. Moving up training camp also has been discussed, but most agree players wouldn't go for that, with little incentive for further virus exposure.
Sources on the call said no definitive plans emerged Monday, which was a broad review of where things are, and many unanswered questions remain.
The new collective bargaining agreement has a force majeure clause, which frees both sides from liability in the case of an extraordinary event such as a pandemic.
That means the NFL and NFLPA can negotiate how to assuage the salary-cap losses in 2021.
The players are due 48% of the revenue next year. The percentage jumps to 48.5 when the league enacts the 17-game season, which it can do between 2021-23. So if the players are set to lose roughly $1.44 billion in salary cap in 2021, or $45 million per team, the league and the union can decide to borrow from future, more fruitful years to correct the losses. The 17-game format, new deals with television partners and gambling money are expected to spike the cap dramatically over the next decade.
But both sides haven't started to negotiate those points yet.
On the call, the union stressed Smith's public stance that football must bend to the virus, not the other way around.
"The union and the league have worked well together trying to figure out how do we engage in a business in the middle of a global pandemic," said Smith in an interview Friday. "We've worked well trying to come up with protocols that we think will work. But I think the fundamental premise here is, we're gonna have to try to figure out a way to bend football to the coronavirus, not bending the virus to football. And that's going to continue to take a lot of work, and both sides have worked well with each other, and we'll continue to do so."