2020 NFL Schedule Leaks: Latest Rumors Ahead of Official ReleaseMay 7, 2020
In a normal NFL offseason, the schedule for 2020 would have already been released by now and left plenty of time for digesting before the draft kicks off.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, nothing about this year is normal, and that's had the NFL adapting on the fly. The league will finally announce the full schedule on Thursday evening
While the extra time may be helpful to the league's schedule-makers in theory, it's unknown what contingency plans are being prepared as well. The NFL remains intent on playing a full 16-game season, yet it's ambiguous how feasible that remains.
As Tadd Haislop of Sporting News noted, the NFL Players Association medical director, Thom Mayer, wasn't even able to commit to playing any games at all when he spoke to ESPN's Adam Schefter on March 30.
"The easy answer and the hard answer are the same answer—which is it's too soon to tell," Mayer said on Schefter's podcast. "I think we're going to know a lot more in late May, early June."
Commissioner Roger Goodell has already sent a memo to each team instructing clubs to include a ticket refund plan for this season directly related to COVID-19.
In the meantime, the league has still not determined when it will allow individual team facilities to reopen.
That officially has OTAs, rookie minicamps and full training camps in limbo, to say nothing of the coaching staffs who have yet to work their offseason acquisitions into the fold. Some teams will have a tougher time with that than others.
Matt Rhule is preparing for his first season as an NFL head coach with the Carolina Panthers without being able to instruct his players on the field. Ron Rivera is in a similar situation as he takes over the Washington Redskins. The Raiders, as a whole, have to work on moving their franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas—and will hopefully get to practice in their new stadium before the season kicks off.
All of it adds to the unknowns the league is working through.
Fortunately for fans, executives and players desperate to start planning out next season, the NFL has already released each team's opponents for 2020, a process made easier by the strict requirements put in place to ensure each team plays it's own division twice as well as another division within its conference and a third division from its opposing conference.
To that end, Haislop has pegged the Baltimore Ravens as the team with the easiest strength of schedule based on their opponents' 2019 performance, while the New England Patriots are set up with the toughest.
The NFL season is scheduled to kick off September 10, barring any setbacks.