Safety outweighs any gain from veterans playing preseason
Tretter is right that the top priority should be to save wear and tear on the $100 million players on the team. You know the old cliche, “it’s not the age, it’s the mileage.” So if there is a chance to keep the mileage down on that cool Baker Mayfield sports car or that Nick Chubb muscle car or that Tretter pickup truck, you should do it. That makes just too much sense.
If the owners want more games, and we think that they do, they have to admit that they are asking the players to assume a higher injury risk by playing in the preseason. To also insist that they assume the risk for making unnecessary appearances, even if it is 10-20 percent of the snaps in meaningless exhibition games, is not a good investment. Yes, it would help the players somewhat to get their timing down, but if they can manage without exhibition games in college, they should be able to manage just fine in the pros as well.
The fans will realize that they don’t want their guys injured for a stupid purpose, i.e., so that the front offices can pretend that the exhibition games have more value when selling season ticket packages. Football is a dangerous sport. If a player is injured during meaningful competition, so be it, but not just for marketing lousy exhibition games, come on. The fans will get it.
The players who need exhibition games are the ones who need to develop; namely, the undrafted free agents and players who were not able to make it the previous year and who are getting another chance. These players would be only too happy to play in two-three or four exhibition games. The fans will watch the exhibition games if the players they see in the uniforms of their team actually play for their team in the regular season, rather than on some other team.
The NFL has the opportunity to allow the young players to have a better chance to stay with the same team for a longer period of time if they slow down movement between teams. They can do this by requiring teams to construct their initial roster from players who were actually in summer camp, and likewise constructing the initial practice squad roster from the summer camp players.