The Coronavirus has changed the world, and the NFL seems to be very late to change or acknowledge the need to change. By contrast the NBA has suspended, and restarted it's season. Planned a change by putting the league in a bubble. Moved the NBA draft back 5 months, as well as move the 2020-2021 season back.
By contrast, the only change the NFL has made this year is to cut two games from the preseason. They have yet to announce a league wide plan for attendance. They have yet to announce a plan for practice. One of the things that has been lost in the sauce is the ramifications for the practice squad. Typically the practice squad is where final cut players land, and some of those players are recalled during the season.
Here is the problem with the NFL not acknowledging change. Using the Jets as an example, they have brought in rookie free agents, or practice squad players multiple times. Robby Anderson, Frankie Luvu, Arthur Maulet, Josh Adams, Vyncint Smith, Daniel Brown, Kyle Phillips, James Burgess were all either rookie free agents or practice squad players that played significant time last year. Considering this is eight undrafted players on a 53 man roster getting playing time last year, I'm projecting this year's roster.
Jared Hilbers (T), Lawrence Cager (WR), Bryce Huff (edge), Javelin Gidry (CB), Lamar Jackson (CB), Shyheim Carter (S) may all have decent shots at landing on the active roster at some point this season in any normal year. The problem this year is that if there are 2 preseason games, and the NFLPA having talks to try to reduce it to zero games, there are no in game reps to evaluate these players .
The prevailing thought is if there is no preseason, any rookie free agents would just immediately go to the practice squad if not signed to the active roster. If they do, and the regular season starts, there is nothing protecting them from being poached by any team that has needs due to injury. In short, the Jets can't vet them through preseason play in order to reshuffle the depth chart. The Jets also risk losing talented players they've never seen play in game due to other teams signing them to active rosters. The only current option is to gamble the back end of the roster trying to estimate if an undrafted rookie free agent is better than someone there is actual in game film on.
There are two changes that could prevent this:
Option 1: Practice squads are locked for the 2020 season. Any team that signs a rookie free agent or any player to it's practice squad cannot have that player be signed to an active roster other than it's own. This prevents poaching, but does not help the player if another team is willing to sign them to a deal.
Option 2: Practice squad players are treated like any player on an NFL roster. Signing them to any teams roster other than the practice squad they are on requires the consent and a trade agreement. This scenerio protects the team as they have the opportunity to say no, sign the player to their own roster, or trade the player to a team while recouping at least a draft pick.
I personally am in favor of the second option, but as these are just my arbitrary thoughts, I thought it was worth mentioning the car wreck that is about to happen to back of the roster guys, and how it might affect a team when injuries or positive Covid-19 results start to decimate rosters. Without these changes it will be really difficult to field a competitive team throughout an entire 2020 season.