As the NFL further processes the challenges of playing 269 total games that count amid an ongoing pandemic, the NFL is beginning to realize that more players than usual will likely be needed.
NFL Media reports that conversations are occurring regarding the possibility of expanding the practice squads from 12 to 16 per team. While that’s helpful, that probably won’t be nearly enough to have players ready in the event that a team experiences a coronavirus outbreak.
The XFL had an entire team of players who were kept ready to go, in the event that any of the eight teams needed to call someone up. The NFL should consider an approach like this, with multiple extra rosters that are kept away from any of the NFL’s 32 teams and that are ready to supply players as needed. Maybe four teams need to be maintained in game shape in the event a given NFL team needs to replace not one or two players on short notice but as many as 10 or 15.
Will that affect the quality of play? Absolutely. But a bad game is better than no game. If the league was willing to bring in 28 teams of replacements for any-pizza-is-good-pizza football during the 1987 strike, the league needs to be ready to move quickly to replace players in a pandemic. Four extra practice-squad players per team won’t cut it. Four extra entire teams that are kept game ready and away from the 32 NFL franchises might.