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NFL, NFLPA implement new COVID-19 protocols that cut back on testing of vaccinated players

The NFL and NFLPA are negotiating ways to make it easier for vaccinated players to avoid the COVID-19 list.

A general view of the NFL logo on the field is seen before the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

UPDATE: The NFL and NFLPA announced new protocols on Saturday. It will include enhanced symptom tracking for all players. For vaccinated players, the targeted testing will a weekly sample selection based on position groups. For coaching staffs, it will be based on staff cohorts. Unvaccinated players will continue to be tested every day. High risk players who wish to opt out of the remainder of the season have until 2 p.m. ET on Monday to submit written notification of intent to do so.

The two parties sent out this joint statement.

“​The NFL and NFLPA have been engaged with our medical advisors to address the emergence of the new Omicron variant and how to stop the spread to ensure we keep everyone safe and complete the remainder of the season responsibly. The intensive protocols implemented last week and the rescheduling of three games were designed to stop the transmission of the virus and play this week’s games safely. After this weekend’s games, we have agreed to put into place a new set of protocols, which will include a more targeted testing plan, more flexibility for players to attend meetings virtually and also a high-risk player opt-out for the remainder of the season.”


The NFL and NFLPA negotiated COVID-19 protocols for the 2021 season, and after a rash of positive cases over the past week, the two sides are looking to make changes.

Albert Breer is reporting the two sides are nearing a deal that would make changes to how vaccinated players are handling in testing. If a player is vaccinated and showing symptoms, they would continue getting tested. However, if a player is vaccinated and not showing any symptoms, they would generally not be tested on a regular basis, but rather only be subject to some manner of “spot testing.” Unvaccinated players would continue to be tested daily.

Breer reported that the final hurdle is the terms of spot testing. Once that is finalized, an agreement could be reached on Saturday and apply moving forward. The league already made changes to how quickly vaccinated asymptomatic players can return from a positive test. It would speed up that process and that coupled with these new changes would significantly cut down on the number of players going on the COVID-19 list.