The NFL is in discussions to hold a shortened preseason before the 2020 regular season gets underway, according to a report by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
According to Pelissero, the league has had discussions with the NFLPA about shortening the preseason, which currently stands at four games for most teams.
The NFL and NFLPA are discussing the possibility of shortening the 2020 preseason, per sources.
Nothing finalized or imminent, but multiple team executives informed of talks currently believe they could end up playing two preseason games, rather than four.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 10, 2020
A shortened preseason would allow for extra time for preparations for stadiums and game-day protocols as the league adjusts to playing games during the coronavirus pandemic.
Most veteran players participate minimally in all but one or two preseason games, with the second and third games on the slate usually being the most impactful for returning players. The Steelers have traditionally used their fourth preseason game almost exclusively for evaluating players on the bubble of the roster.
Players that were signed as undrafted free agents or as street free agents following the 2019 season are already going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to making NFL rosters this fall because of the cancellation of minicamps and OTAs, which usually give those players time to adjust to a new system and build relationships and rapport with coaches.
Preseason games, whose tickets are priced into season ticket packages, have long been seen as a money-grab by the teams more than a necessity for season preparation and player evaluation. The league canceling preseason games during a time in which they may not be able to have fans at any rate will likely do little to dissuade that notion.
The Steelers have five preseason games currently scheduled for 2020, as they are slated to play the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 6, home games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints on Aug. 14 and 23 and road games at the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers on Aug. 28 and Sept. 3.
NFL Insider John Clayton: Steelers Out of Running for J.J. Watt
One of the league’s most prominent insiders believes the Steelers are out of the running for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt.
Joining The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton said Watt will not be joining his brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh.
Clayton sees the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to land Watt’s services.
For a potential dark horse, Clayton says the Las Vegas Raiders as an outside-the-box candidate to sign the veteran pass rusher.
.@JohnClaytonNFL says JJ Watt won't be coming to Pittsburgh. Tennessee, Green Bay, and Buffalo are the 3 teams. Raiders as a dark horse.— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) February 24, 2021
Watt leaves Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).
Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.
NFL Hosting Women’s Careers in Football Forum
The NFL is hosting its fifth annual Women’s Careers in Football Forum from Feb. 24-25, the league announced in a press release Tuesday.
The event will be held virtually and “connect 40 women, 75% of whom are women of color, with leaders in professional football to help those women network and build relationships in the areas of coaching, scouting and football operations.”
Those participating in the event will join panel discussions, breakout sessions and have networking opportunities with industry leaders, such as head coaches and team executives. All portions of the event are aimed at building connections that will result in hirings and subsequent representation.
Since its inception in 2017, the two-day event has assisted in developing “a more diverse talent pipeline by connecting high-potential women to career opportunities in football.” According to the league, 118 opportunities for women in football have been created as a result.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and wife Jane Skinner Goodell will speak, as well as NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer Dawn Aponte. In addition, three owners, seven head coaches and six general managers will also join the conversation.
Sarah Thomas made history earlier this month becoming the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. The champion Tamp Bay Buccaneers also had a record number of women on their coaching staff this past season.
Report: 2021 NFL Salary Cap Expected at $182-183 Million
The 2021 NFL salary cap is expected to be around $182 or $183 million, according to a report by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
That is just slightly above the bare-minimum figure of $180 million agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA last week, and aligns with Steelers Now sources that predict the cap will fall between $180 and $185 million.
The Steelers are one of several teams that will be significantly over the salary cap, regardless of what figure is.
According to Pro Football Talk, those teams have been lobbying to increase the 2021 salary cap at the expense of future years to minimize the impact the pandemic has had on NFL operations.
Doing so would essentially amount to an interest-free loan given by the owners to the players, something that some owners have balked at.
That final figure could still be impacted by the league signing new television contracts for the 2022 season before the salary cap is finalized, which is expected some time in March.
The new league year starts on March 17, which is the day that all teams must be under the new salary cap.