As the NFL and NFL Players Association try to reach an agreement on all issues associated with pro football in a pandemic, there’s one area on which management and labor apparently aren’t in agreement as to whether they have a disagreement.
According to ESPN.com, a dispute lingers regarding whether players who test positive for COVID-19 will be classified as having a “non-football injury.” A source with knowledge of the league’s position on the issue tells PFT that this specific issue already has been resolved.
Unless the NFL changes the rules of the NFI list, putting a player on the NFI during the season will end his season. The NFL surely doesn’t want that; it wants to ensure that players who test positive and who must be quarantined for a short period of time can return to play.
The real question is whether the NFL will create a COVID-19 list for short-term placement of players, so that their roster spots can be filled with players who have tested negative. The NFLPA surely would insist that players on a short-term COVID-19 list would receive their salaries during their absences, especially since it will be difficult if not impossible for the league to show that the player didn’t catch the virus at work.
That said, players who test positive when they report for training camp most likely will be placed on the active/NFI list, where they would remain until they are cleared to join the roster. But that’s a much different issue than using reserve/NFI in order to get the player off the roster and avoid paying the balance of his salary.
Again, the league believes this issue has been resolved. As the two sides move toward midnight on the ability to open training camps as scheduled, it becomes critical to at least be in agreement as to the things on which they actually disagree.