COVID-19 NFL Player Opt-Outs
By Ha Kung Wong
As we discussed on our last podcast, the start of the 2020 NFL regular season is still theoretically September 10th with the Kickoff game between the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, led by the newly uber-rich Patrick Mahomes who signed a 10-year $503M deal, and the Houston Texans. Whether we’ll get to see Patty Rich play football on that day, though, is still up in the air due to COVID-19.
So far, we’ve seen three of the major US team sports restart, with the MLB leading the way and followed soon thereafter by the NBA and NHL. Although the NBA and NHL have just started, the use of a “bubble” and hub cities appears to have properly addressed COVID-19’s impact, with the NHL reporting zero COVID-19 cases during the first week, while the MLB has been perhaps a cautionary tale on what not to do if you’re trying to avoid infection.
BREAKING: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told MLBPA executive director Tony Clark on Friday that if the sport doesn’t do a better job of managing the coronavirus, it could shut down for the season, sources tell ESPN.
Story at ESPN: https://t.co/o0OL7JzowN
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 31, 2020
To date, the MLB has had 21 games postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks, primarily with the Miami Marlins, who had 20 players and personnel test positive and most recently the St. Louis Cardinals, who had 13 players and personnel test positive. But teams that have played and are scheduled to play both the Marlins and Cardinals have also been impacted, with the Philadelphia Phillies having at least 2 personnel with positive tests, and schedules of the Nationals, Orioles, Tigers and Blue Jays being impacted either due to quarantine requirements or due to postponed games. And although the NBA has done better, even the “bubble” isn’t addressing all the issues, as they’ve recently found it necessary to tighten testing procedures.
We discussed our thoughts as to how this might impact the NFL’s chances at a 2020 regular season on our podcast, including the impact of players opting out of the season. Numerous MLB and NBA players have already opted out of their respective seasons, and we’ve seen a number do so in the NFL as well.
As previously discussed, the NFL and the NFL Player’s Association agreed to allow players to opt-out of the 2020 season if they are concerned with the COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Players at high-risk for infection can opt-out and receive a $350,000 stipend whereas everyone one else can voluntarily out-out and receive a $150,000 stipend while tolling their contracts. There’s also the possibility for NFL players to opt-out later in the season in the event that a family member gets COVID-19 or if they end up with a new diagnosis for COVID-19 or which puts them in the high-risk group. Those who do opt-out were required to provide their team with an irrevocable written notice by Thursday, August 6th at 4 PM ET.
We’ve discussed some of these players during our podcast, but we’ve compiled all the opt-outs below as well as providing occasional commentary. Have questions or thoughts? Chime in or tweet at us!
WR Travis Benjamin
49ers WR Travis Benjamin is opting out of the 2020 season, per source.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 5, 2020
- With lingering injuries to Richie James and Deebo Samuel, there may be need for WR help in SF come Week 1, even with top draft pick Brandon Aiyuk in the wings.
DL Josh Tupou
OG Colby Gossett
#Browns guard Colby Gossett informed the club he’s opting out of the 2020 season, source said. He qualifies for the higher-risk stipend.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 5, 2020
OG Malcolm Pridgeon
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 6, 2020
OT Brad Seaton
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 6, 2020
OT Marcus Gilbert
- Williams is certainly one of the more interesting opt-outs as he had a breakout season in 2019 and fully expected to resume a primary role on the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. Of course, Williams didn’t step away primarily because of COVID-19, but rather to take care of his mom who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
OT Lucas Niang
#Chiefs rookie tackle Lucas Niang is opting out of the 2020 season, per source.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 6, 2020
LB Skai Moore
CB Rolan Milligan
CB Marvell Tell
- Colts may need to fill in some depth on special teams with both Milligan and Tell opting out.
WR Allen Hurns
DT Davon Godchaux
WR Albert Wilson II
WR Marquise Goodwin
CB Sam Beal
Giants’ CB Sam Beal officially opted out of the 2020 season, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 5, 2020
CB Rashaan Melvin
CB Rashaan Melvin has informed the club that he is voluntarily opting out for the 2020 season. pic.twitter.com/qfs5TymXJb
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 6, 2020
OL Leo Koloamatangi
LB C.J. Mosley
LB James Burgess
WR Josh Doctson
WR Josh Doctson has been placed on the Reserve/Opt Out list.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 6, 2020
C Russell Bodine
WR Devin Funchess
LB Jordan Mack
LB Christian Miller
LB Ukeme Eligwe
OG Chance Warmack
DL Eddie Vanderdoes
OT Anthony McKinney
DL Michael Pierce