What NFL training camp limits could mean for UDFAs

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

In a tough break for undrafted free agents across the NFL, the league will reportedly be limiting the size of training camp rosters in 2020.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the expectation is each team will be allowed up to 80 players on their initial roster. This is one of many health and safety elements being implemented by the league to fight COVID-19.

Most teams rosters currently have at or around the usual number for this time of year, 90 players. Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer has reported that details are still being worked out how the reduction from 90 to 80 will happen. Teams could be required to cut down to that number before camp opens, or it could be part-way through camp, similar to the former 75-man roster deadline.

As the details continue to be worked out about NFL training camps, the clock continues ticking - players are expected to report to team facilities this Friday.

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 21, 2018: J.C. Jackson of the New England Patriots celebrates an interception against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Patriots defeated the Bears 38-31. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The reduced rosters will mostly impact UDFAs and other back-end of the roster candidates. For the Patriots, that means guys like David Andrews, JC Jackson, and Jakobi Meyers could have been left off the roster entirely if they were rookies in 2020.

Who on the 2020 Patriots could be hurt most by this development, along with a limited training camp and no preseason? Wide receiver Jeff Thomas has received a lot of hype in the buildup to camp, but the Miami product faces a very crowded group at the position, where it would make sense for the Patriots to trim the roster.

On defense, former Washington Husky Myles Bryant looks like a very intriguing prospect. But with so many established veterans ahead of him at the position and so few opportunities for quality reps he could find himself on the outside looking in.

It's a well known mantra in Foxborough that during training camp, all 90 players have a chance to make, or miss, the final roster. How does that translate to 2020, when player evaluation will lean more heavily on past performances and accomplishments?

Aug 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Jeff Thomas (4) runs with the ball during the first half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick has kept a UDFA on the Patriots' initial roster for 16 straight years. With limited chances to prove themselves, will any player be able to keep that stretch alive this summer?

While under normal circumstances, those types of players are kept as projects with longer-term goals, this year it may take proving that they can step right in and make an immediate, regular impact on the team.

Just another item to add to the list of unknowns heading into the 2020 NFL season.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].