The NFL and NFLPA came to an agreement Friday afternoon on "the foundation necessary to play amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."
Discussions about adjustments to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement have been ongoing for weeks. According to NFL.com's Nick Shook, the changes were approved by a player representative vote, by a count of 29-3.
Most veteran players across the league, including the Vikings, are scheduled to report for their respective training camps on July 28.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the following:
"We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel. These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the NFLPA and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the CDC, and many state and local public health officials. The season will undoubtedly present new and additional challenges, but we are committed to playing a safe and complete 2020 season, culminating with the Super Bowl."
The agreed-upon deal includes an allowance for 16-man practice squads, high-risk and voluntary opt-outs of participation and the absence of a preseason for 2020, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.
For players who opt out of participating, high-risk candidates will receive a $350,000 stipend and their contract will toll, per Pelissero. Voluntary opt-outs will receive a $150,000 salary advance and their contract will toll as well. Opt-outs are due within seven days of the deal being finalized.
Examples of the CDC's defined "increased risk" categories would include moderate-to-severe asthma, sickle cell disease or Type 2 diabetes.
Shook referenced NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who reported that training camps are "set to be comprised of 20 days of a ramp-up period and a maximum of 14 padded practices."
"So what you'll see is a couple weeks of strength and conditioning only after players get tested," Rapoport said. "We won't see football necessarily for some time, probably be a couple weeks. And then you'll see more OTA-style practices with helmets, but it'll more look like kind of passing camp. And then after a couple of weeks you'll finally get pads. But because there are no preseason games … teams are allowed the ability to really ramp up slowly."
Another adjustment as a result of the coronavirus is that the NFL will "spread the impact of any 2020 revenue shortfall" over four years, beginning in 2021. This means that the 2020 cap of $198.2 million remains unchanged; according to Shook, the salary cap next season will be at least $175 million.
Rapoport also explained that rosters must be trimmed down to 80 players by Aug. 16 and no more than 80 players are allowed in the building at one time.
Vikings LBs ranked in PFF's top 10
On Sunday, Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks finally cracked NFL Network's Top 100 when he came in at No. 83 on the list.
Kendricks received All-Pro honors and earned a trip to his first career Pro Bowl following an impressive 2019 campaign, during which analytics site Pro Football Focus said he made "a legitimate case for Defensive Player of the Year."
It's easy to argue that Kendricks and Anthony Barr are one of the NFL's best linebacker duos, having impressed since being drafted in 2015 and 2014, respectively.
PFF's Steve Palazzolo recently ranked all 32 linebacker units entering the 2020 season and tabbed the Vikings eighth-best, pointing out that Kendricks' 90.2 overall regular-season grade and 12 pass breakups led all players at the position. Palazzolo wrote:
Kendricks had produced grades in the 60.0s in his previous three seasons, so last year was one in which he finally put it all together in each phase. In addition to Kendricks' playmaking in coverage, he also had the third-best run-defense grade (90.1) while tying for 10thwith 17 pressures.
According to Palazzolo, Barr finished with a 60.6 overall grade in 2019. He said the seventh-year LB "has been reasonable in the run game" and has rushed the passer more than 100 times in each of the past six seasons.
Eric Wilson manned the No. 3 spot last season, grading out at 66.7. He'll have competition in Ben Gedeon, who produced a 60.1 grade on 102 snaps last season, and fourth-round pick Troy Dye, one of the better coverage linebackers in the draft who has the length to be a weapon against tight ends.
The Vikings have a solid group that plays to their defensive style. Another high-end year from Kendricks makes this one of the top units in the league.
Ranked ahead of Minnesota by Palazzolo from 1-7, respectively, were Seattle, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Atlanta.
CBS Sports lists 1 'make-or-break' game for all 32 teams
Assuming that the 2020 regular season kicks off as scheduled, we're less than two months away from Minnesota's season opener against Green Bay on Sept. 13.
CBS Sports' John Breech delved into every team's 16-game slate and picked one contest "that could go a long way to deciding the season" for that club. He said that "although every regular-season game is important, some of them are more important than others, and those are the games that we're going to take a look at right now."
The Vikings have a number of games on their schedule in 2020 that could prove pivotal, but Breech specifically zeroed in on their Week 5 road game at Seattle on Sunday Night Football.
I think it's fair to say that Vikings fans are getting a little fatigued from seeing the non-division foe on the regular-season schedule. Breech wrote:
For the past two years, the Vikings game against the Seahawks has turned into a "make-or-break" situation for Minnesota, so we're just going to assume it's going to happen again in 2020. Two years ago, the Vikings lost to the Seahawks in Week 14 and then ended up missing the postseason by one game. In 2019, the Vikings went to the playoffs as a [No. 6 seed] but could have been at least one spot higher if they had been able to beat the Seahawks in Week 13.
Breech added that the Minnesota-Seattle game "always seems to have playoff implications."