Ten things about the Broncos/NFL, one for each cancelled organized team activity workout:
1. Teams will be allowed to tarp off the first eight rows of stadium seats and sell advertisements this season. English soccer teams started doing this upon their return to play. But here’s the issue: How often while watching an NFL game on television do you even see the first eight rows of seats? Rarely because there are no seats at literal field level like soccer.
2. The best way for teams to generate revenue is selling uniform patches, if only for this year. The NBA introduced the jersey ad (2 1/2 inches x 2 1/2 inches) in 2017 and the Nuggets signed a deal with Western Union. In 2019, Sports Business Journal reported the patch generated $150 million ($5.172 million average per team). I’m all for tradition, but it would be a way for NFL teams to recoup the expected lost revenue and introduce new sponsors to the sport.
3. The Hall of Fame Game (Pittsburgh vs. Dallas) was canceled last week and the next domino to fall should be the first two preseason games. If teams report on time, on or around July 28, players will need an acclimation period that may keep them out of pads until mid-August. That would leave two preseason games, certainly enough to have the starters break a sweat and figure out the back end of the roster.
4. The NFL also said it will not place a league-wide attendance limit, allowing teams to make their judgments based on local and state guidelines. That’s fine. Why penalize Team A if they are allowed to invite 10,000 fans to a game just because Team B’s market says no fans at all. The issue for teams is once they have an official number, how do they divide the tickets between premium seat holders, long-time general season-ticket holders and corporate sponsors?
5. The idea of starting camp early never gained any traction due to the NFLPA’s objections. But the union should have played ball with the league to set up a mid-July start date for rookies/first-year players. Get the rookies into town, administer physical exams, sign the contracts and then begin an orientation period so those players aren’t at a huge disadvantage when the veterans show up. Not happening, though.
6. Even before the pandemic, the new collective bargaining agreement called for game-day roster expansion from 46 to 48 players (one of the extra players must be an offensive lineman) and a practice squad increase to 14 players. I’m all for having a 20-player practice squad this year and keep them as separate from the active roster as possible so they are healthy to play in the case of a mini-outbreak. I would also create a separate COVID-19 injured reserve and, for the first half of the season, allow teams to bring five players back from regular injured reserve after they have sat out eight weeks. This season will be a roster churn because of the virus and the potential for soft tissue injures due to the lack of an offseason program.
7. From the Obvious Opinion Dept.: Cam Newton will be starting at quarterback when New England hosts the Broncos in Week 5 (Oct. 11). The Patriots open vs. Miami, at Seattle, vs. Las Vegas and at Kansas City and Bill Belichick could use the first 2-3 games to work Newton into the lineup via specific packages before handing him the keys. Newton, 0-3 all-time against the Broncos, is 31 years old and missed the last 14 games of 2019 so he will need to knock some rust off.
8. Bravo to Newton, who realized that getting into a camp to start 2020 will help him earn a starting job somewhere in 2021. Ryan Tannehill took the same route last year in Tennessee, signing to be Marcus Mariota’s backup before getting a shot to start and keeping the job.
9. Assuming Newton is starting by Week 5, the Broncos will play a combined seven games against quarterbacks who have played in a Super Bowl: Newton, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (Week 2), Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady (Week 3), Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (Weeks 8 and 13), Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (Week 10) and New Orleans’ Drew Brees (Week 12).
10. Finally, a hat tip to Nicki Jhabvala, my predecessor as the Denver Post’s Broncos writer, who is leaving The Athletic to cover the Redskins for the Washington Post. Since I arrived here in May 2018, Nicki has been an invaluable resource regarding the Broncos in general and the ownership situation in particular.