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.

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

  • 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.

DT Eddie Goldman
S Jordan Lucas

DL Josh Tupou

DL Star Lotulelei
CB E.J. Gaines

DL Kyle Peko
OT Ja’Wuan James

OT Drake Dorbeck
OG Drew Forbes
DT Andrew Billings

OG Colby Gossett

OG Malcolm Pridgeon

OT Brad Seaton

OT Marcus Gilbert

No Opt-Outs

OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
RB Damien Williams

  • 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.
Damien Williams Rushing & Receiving Stats
Game Rush Rush Rush Rush Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year G Rush Yds TD Y/A Tgt Rec Yds TD
2014 16 36 122 0 3.4 27 21 187 1
2015 16 16 59 0 3.7 28 21 142 1
2016 15 35 115 3 3.3 32 23 249 3
2017 11 46 181 0 3.9 28 20 155 1
2018 16 50 256 4 5.1 24 23 160 2
2019 11 111 498 5 4.5 37 30 213 2
Care 85 294 1231 12 4.2 176 138 1106 10
4 yr 58 133 477 3 3.6 115 85 733 6
2 yr 27 161 754 9 4.7 61 53 373 4

OT Lucas Niang

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.

CB Maurice Canady
WR Stephen Guidry
FB Jamize Olawale

WR Allen Hurns

DT Davon Godchaux

WR Albert Wilson II

WR Marquise Goodwin

No Opt-Outs

OT Nate Solder
WR Da’Mari Scott

CB Sam Beal

LB Lerentee McCray
DL Al Woods

CB Rashaan Melvin

OL Leo Koloamatangi
LB C.J. Mosley

LB James Burgess

WR Josh Doctson

DL John Atkins
WR Geronimo Allison

C Russell Bodine

WR Devin Funchess

LB Jordan Mack
LB Christian Miller

RB Brandon Bolden
OT Marcus Cannon
S Patrick Chung
LB Dont’a Hightower
WR Marqise Lee
OL Najee Toran
FB Danny Vitale
TE Matt LaCosse

LB Ukeme Eligwe

No Opt-Outs

OT Andre Smith
WR De’Anthony Thomas

TE Jason Vander Laan
TE Cole Wick

OG Chance Warmack

No Opt-Outs

DL Eddie Vanderdoes

OT Anthony McKinney

DL Michael Pierce

Washington Football Team
DL Caleb Brantley
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons