Report: NFL Eliminates 2 Preseason Games Ahead of 2020 Season

Blake SchusterAnalyst IJuly 1, 2020

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 05: A general view of the NFL shield painted on the turf at NRG Stadium on November 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Tim Warner/Getty Images

The NFL is slashing the amount of preseason games in 2020, dropping from four games to two games, per ProFootballTalk.

Week 1 and Week 4 of the previously released exhibition schedules have been cut. 

ProFootballTalk @ProFootballTalk

Week One and Week Four will be the preseason weeks that are scrapped, per source.

This is the second amendment to the preseason schedule this year following the league's cancellation of the annual Hall of Fame Game, which typically serves as the first exhibition game of the season. The NFL announced the matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys would be moved to next year.

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio reports the cuts will become official Thursday:

"The move was driven by two primary factors. First, teams who will be playing preseason games on the road won’t want to move that many people. Second, given that no teams had on-field practice sessions in the offseason, coaches would rather have the extra time to work with their teams, and that will happen if they don’t have to worry about two extra preseason games."

Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, however, reported that the NFLPA has not signed off on the matter, with some in the union expressing concern over playing any preseason games at all:

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

While the expectation for weeks has been the NFL goes to two preseason games, the NFLPA hasn’t signed off. and some in union leadership continue to question whether it’s smart to play ANY preseason games, sources tell me and @TomPelissero. Board of reps call Thursday. Stay tuned.

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

From @NFLTotalAccess: NFL teams would like to play two preseason games to get a read on their rosters and get ready for Week 1, though the NFLPA hasn't signed off on that and is wondering if it's wise to start mixing teams for games that don't count in the standings. https://t.co/bHAFsAde8v

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

Second part of the report on the preseason from @NFLTotalAccess: The NFLPA has been vocal about the health and safety of their players, and not just publicly. The union will continue to discuss whether it's safe to play any preseason games. https://t.co/ZVcBW28hfy

In recent years, the fourth preseason game has been largely ceremonial, with a number of starters typically on the sidelines to avoid the risk of injury a week before the season begins. 

The first NFL contest of the season will now take place on Thursday, August 20, with the Carolina Panthers traveling to play the New England Patriots at 7:30 p.m. ET in the first game on NFL Network. 

If there are no other setbacks or changes, that means fans will likely get to see quarterback Cam Newton take snaps for New England against his former club in Carolina. The Patriots signed Newton for a league minimum deal Sunday, though he can earn up to $7.5 million with incentives after two injury-plagued years saw his time with the Panthers come to an end. 

The New York Jets will kick off at the Detroit Lions at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN later that evening.

Executives and fans alike have long called for a reduced preseason schedule. The risk of injury and the lack of interest in games has been the driving force behind the shift. 

It is not clear if the move is permanent.