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The 2020 NFL schedule release could be delayed by a few weeks to make extra preparations in case the coronavirus pandemic results in a shortened season.
Per NBC Sports’ Peter King, there is “momentum” for the schedule to drop in May:
“What if the NFL has to truncate the season, perhaps go from 16 games to 12 or 14? If so, the league would likely want most of all of its division games played in total, and the league would likely want to be sure every team had an equal number of home and road games for each team. Of course we won’t know if all of that is going to happen by the first week of May, but we will certainly have a better idea with three weeks more lead time to make the schedule official.”
In a typical year, the NFL schedule is announced in mid-April. Last year, for instance, it was unveiled on April 17, eight days before the draft.
If this year followed suit, the schedule would be released on April 15 with the NFL draft set to take place on April 23.
King did note there’s recent precedent for the league to stagger the schedule in the event games have to be missed. In 2011, while the lockout was going on, the schedule featured a number of teams with one or fewer division games in the first eight weeks.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell distributed a leaguewide memo Thursday informing teams that the draft will go on as scheduled, albeit with significant changes that include not having prospects or their families present.
The 2020 NFL schedule will start with the Hall of Fame preseason game on Aug. 6, followed by the regular-season opener on Sept. 10.