After the positive news that the Santa Clara County health department gave the San Francisco 49ers an okay to report, a new obstacle may be in the way.
With quarterbacks, rookies and injured players heading to Levi’s Stadium and the 49ers’ facilities on Thursday, San Francisco has began its transition to in-person offseason and preseason work.
However, a new report from NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero states that the NFL’s owners are still pushing for an agreement to lower the league’s salary cap over the next two seasons due to loss of money amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NFLPA wants to spread the financial hit through 2030, rather than taking it now. And even a $10 million reduction in the 2020 salary cap would be “too much” at this stage, one GM said. Rosters are largely set. Many teams would be scrambling to free up money somewhere.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 23, 2020
49ers owner Jed York has not commented publicly on the matter.
Either way, it appears that the 49ers may have to hold off on training camp, as Pelissero’s report states that league owners are attempting to wait until the entire of the NFL’s teams have started reporting to training camp.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans are the two remaining franchises yet to report, and are expecting the first of their players to arrive on Sunday, August 26.
As Pelissero’s tweet says, the NFL Players’ Association is attempting to navigate a deal that would see the NFL spread out salary cap cuts over the course of a decade, rather than having to subject general managers like 49ers’ John Lynch to a quick and costly decision on which veterans are kept and cut.
NFLPA Suggests that Owners Purposely Waited
The news of a training camp holdout is not good news for fans or players, and for NFLPA’s Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs George Attalah, something smells especially fishy about the timing of the leak.
Let me get this straight: when players wanted to wait until safety protocols finished to come in, management set reporting dates before that was all done.
Now that coronavirus protocols are done, they leak a threat to shut down because they don’t have players’ money. 🤔 https://t.co/jL81QPFAiy
— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) July 23, 2020
Atallah’s point about how the reporting dates for NFL players being set is valid, and the timing of the leak certainly doesn’t help the case of NFL owners.
With billions of dollars likely lost due to COVID-19 forcing minimal or a total lack of fans, it makes sense that the NFL and each franchise’s respective owners would look to regulate spending. But considering it’s late July, it’s an issue that could cause the return of the NFL to be delayed further.
And for York, Lynch and the 49ers, who are already working in a tight salary cap space of $12 million, a reduction in salary could cause problems regarding the re-signing of tight end George Kittle as well as other players on the squad.
Deebo Samuel Shows Video of Santa Clara Return
While the status of NFL training camp may be up in the air, one positive is seeing 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s excitement about seeing Levi’s Stadium.
Posting on his Instagram story, the second-year receiver shared his new digs as well as a video of him driving by his current footballing home, saying, “I miss you” with a heart emoji.
Samuel is returning to Santa Clara, California on Thursday due to his jones fracture, which he suffered back in June while practicing with 49ers players in Nashville, Tennessee.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.