The NFL will go from four preseason games to two this summer, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.
Week 1 and Week 4 have been eliminated. Locally, that would mean the Patriots’ preseason games against the Lions at home (Aug. 13) and on the road against the Giants (Sept. 3) would be scrapped. The contests against the Panthers (home on Aug. 20) and Eagles (away, Aug. 27) would be retained.
Pro Football Talk was first to report the news.
If the change takes place, there’s a possibility Cam Newton would make his preseason debut against his former team, Carolina, in the preseason opener at Gillette Stadium.
It doesn’t appear to be a done deal yet, however. On Wednesday evening, Mike Garafolo of NFL Media indicated the NFLPA had yet to agree to the deal, and added “some in union leadership continue to question whether it’s smart to play ANY preseason games.”
If it does go through, the move would be the latest in a series of announcements that seem designed to restructure the NFL preseason. While most of the league appears set to start training camp in late July, Wednesday’s decision comes on the heels of the cancellation of the Aug. 8 Hall of Fame Game.
According to ESPN, the impetus for the restructure is a consensus between the NFL and NFLPA that players will need more time than normal to get in football shape this summer — the coronavirus pandemic has left teams with a nontraditional offseason slate. There have been no organized on-field workouts, and gyms and other facilities have been shut down.