So what happens if one or more players test positive for COVID-19 the night before a game? The team will be able to instantly add up to 16 players to the roster, up to 90 minutes before kickoff.
The league’s proposal to the NFL Players Association contemplates broad expansion of the rules regarding the practice squad to allow for the promotion of players at any point up to 90 minutes before kickoff.
For starters, the practice squad will be expanded from 12 to 16 players. Up to six members of the practice squad will have no limitation on number of accrued seasons, meaning that a team can have a half-dozen veterans of unlimited experience ready to go at a moment’s notice.
The proposal points out that the existing Contagious Disease Policy allows for the promotion of a minimum of six practice-squad players in the event of an outbreak. For 2020, the minimum will be removed to allow for any number of players to be promoted in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
The only requirement for immediate promotion of practice-squad players is that the positive diagnosis must happen after the deadline has passed for making player transactions in the normal course of business. Which, as long as teams move expeditiously to make a roster move if the positive diagnosis happens before 4:00 p.m. ET, should not keep teams from filling up to roster spots on short notice, if an outbreak happens the night before, or the day of, a given game.