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What CBA and player contracts say about canceled games

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The business of the NFL has continued uninterrupted through the pandemic, burrowing ahead through originally scheduled dates for free agency, the draft and schedule release. While every other major American sports league has suspended or canceled operations, the NFL is “playing through” the pandemic. Business as usual.

In a relative sense, the NFL is extremely fortunate due to the timing of this national turbulence, with the only disruption being adjustment away from in-person voluntary workouts (teams have seamlessly moved to virtual sessions). The NFL can watch and learn how other leagues navigate the three “T’s”—testing, tracing and treatment—in the weeks ahead.

Yet beyond the perceived normalcy of this offseason, the big questions remain, such as: Will there be a 2020 NFL season? And if so, with or without fans? And if so, will it be 16 games or some shorter version? Despite the NFL’s confidence, no one truly knows, but preparations must be made, including those revolving around business of football. In assessing what is next in this space, we start, as we always do, with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. And, as fate would have it, the current CBA was ratified by the players—by the slimmest of margins—literally hours before the pandemic took hold.

With that extraordinary timing, let’s examine the CBA’s answers—or lack thereof—to big picture questions about the sport going forward.

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