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.