The reports of the NFL eliminating half its preseason schedule look to be accurate. The league is planning to slash its preseason schedule, according to Pro Football Talk (on Twitter).
This comes after the league nixed the August Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Now, teams’ August schedules will be trimmed from four games to two. This will open the door for the long-rumored acclimation period — which will allow for increased conditioning after the virtual offseason.
Preseason Weeks 1 and 4 will be cut, according to PFT (via Twitter). This would mean teams would only see a week’s worth of delay to the schedule. Removing Week 4 from the calendar would allow for more time in between the preseason and the regular season.
Considering the changes brought on by the the COVID-19 pandemic, such a gap could be critical as the NFL prepares to navigate its 101st season amid historically unusual circumstances.
Although the preseason has continued to mean less and less, with some teams opting to rest starters throughout, Wednesday’s decision will mean limited game action for rookies hoping to make first impressions. The virtual offseason prevented young players from key on-site work at mini-camps, and a truncated preseason will reduce the opportunities they will have to stand out on film for other teams considering waiver claims. No joint practices will cut down on those chances as well.
Wednesday's news could mean the end of the four-game preseason going forward. The new CBA gives the NFL the option of transitioning to the 17-game regular-season schedule as soon as 2021. Considering the revenue at risk of being lost because of what could be a fanless season, it would not surprise if the NFL moved to 17 games by 2021. That format calls for a three-game preseason.