The Sanctity of the NFL Schedule Is Straining Its Teams - Nora Princiotti
According to the NFL Network, Monday’s postponement came after the Ravens held a players-only meeting and expressed concern about playing the game Tuesday after just one day of no new positive tests and without the chance to practice.
The league is devoted to its schedule. It’s the product the NFL sells to the TV networks, with prime games in prime windows blocked off as carrots it can offer to favored partners. It gets its own release day, with prime-time specials and graphics packages. If the schedule could be doused with champagne like a new boat, the NFL would do it. Whether to appease broadcast partners, offer a vague sense of normalcy, or avoid moving the Super Bowl, the league has been steadfastly committed to completing the 2020 regular season with as little interruption as possible.
What we still don’t know is what it would take to cancel a game, or to substantially change the schedule by creating a Week 18. The problem with sticking to the schedule isn’t that some games have been terrible or unfair. It’s that they could still get a lot worse.
If the game takes place, that means the NFL will have at least one game played on all seven days of the week over the course of the season. During a normal year, you’ll almost never see a Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday game get played, but this isn’t a normal year and all three of those things are expected to happen.
As for Wednesday games, they’re just as rare. Since 1950, the only time the NFL has played a Wednesday game came during the 2012 regular season opener. The Giants and Cowboys were originally scheduled to play on Thursday, but the game got bumped to Wednesday so that it didn’t conflict with President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention that year.
Right now, along with navigating a pandemic-impacted regular season, all 32 NFL organizations are preparing for perhaps the biggest challenge the salary cap has ever presented. Clubs are aware there will be a decrease in the cap number next year due to COVID-19 repercussions, but to what degree? That’s still unknown, as there are estimates out there, but no official number from the league.
Introduced for the 1994 NFL season, the salary cap traditionally increases on a year-to-year basis and has only decreased one time: 2011, the year of the NFL lockout. In fact, over the past seven seasons, the league has seen its salary cap per club increase by no less than $10 million per year; since 2012, the cap for each club has risen from $120.6 million to $198.2 million in 2020. Over the Cap estimates the 2021 salary cap will be $176 million, a decrease of $22.2 million or 11.2 percent from 2020.
All other minimum salaries agreed to in the new CBA, including tenders for exclusive rights and restricted free agents, are going to increase and will eat up a larger percentage of cap space. Almost every player under contract in the NFL has a base salary that is scheduled to increase in 2021 from his 2020 salary, which will be reflected in each player’s ratio of salary cap hit for his team. If the cap number is lower, it will only exacerbate the problem and reduce the margin. As a result, a larger number of veteran players could be forced to take minimum contracts.
2021 NFL Mock Draft: Five QBs go off the board in top half of the first round; yet another deep WR class - Ryan Wilson
Round 1 - Pick 18
LSU • JR • 6’1” / 200 LBS
PROSPECT RNK 3rd
POSITION RNK 1st
It’s hard to imagine Ja’Marr Chase falling this far but Justin Jefferson, a legit OROY candidate, wasn’t taken until No. 22. Put another way: If Chase somehow is still on the board the Ravens will sprint to the podium to take him. Baltimore’s offense has floundered this season, in part because of the lack of chemistry between Lamar Jackson and his young wideouts.
Baltimore Ravens activate Trace McSorley, Brandon Williams and 2 others from COVID list - Aaron Kasinitz
Quarterback Trace McSorley, defensive tackle Brandon Williams and cornerbacks Tavon Young and Khalil Dorsey on Tuesday came off the reserve/COVID-19 list, which is designed to house players who test positive for the coronavirus or must isolate after a high-risk encounter. Young and Dorsey will revert to injured reserve.
McSorley and Williams can rejoin the team in time to travel to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. With MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus last week, McSorley could suit up against the Steelers as the No. 2 quarterback behind Robert Griffin III.
Williams, a starter on the Ravens’ defensive line, has not practiced since suffering an ankle injury during a Nov. 15 loss to the Patriots. That puts his chances of suiting up to play against the Steelers in doubt.
Baltimore still has 16 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Two of them, running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, will be eligible to come off the list Wednesday so long as they don’t display coronavirus symptoms.