A total of 66 players have opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the coronavirus pandemic, nearly half of them linemen.
Twenty offensive linemen and 11 on defense opted out before Thursday’s deadline. Players with a medical opt out will receive a $350,000 stipend, whole those voluntarily opting out receive $150,000 as an advance against future salaries.
No team has come close to New England in losing players for the upcoming season, which begins on 10 September with Houston at Super Bowl champions Kansas City. The Patriots, already minus several stars who left in free agency — including, of course, Tom Brady to Tampa Bay – saw eight opt outs: running back Brandon Bolden, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, tight end Matt LaCosse, wide receiver Marqise Lee, offensive lineman Najee Toran and fullback Dan Vitale. Hightower, Cannon and Chung were key contributors in recent seasons.
Only three teams had no one opting out: the Steelers, Falcons and Chargers.
“Those are not easy decisions to make as a player, especially when you love the game,” said Broncos safety Justin Simmons, who will play this season. “But family will always come first. And I’ve had a lot of difficult conversations with my wife and, yeah, it’s not ever going to be easy. Just like for the rest of America, it’s not easy on anyone right now.”
Among them was Albert Wilson, who became the second Miami Dolphins wide receiver to make his decision public in as many days on Wednesday.
“I’ve decided to opt out this 2020 season,” he announced Wednesday on Twitter. “It was a very tough choice but since the day I started playing the game it’s always been Faith Family Football. Because of this crazy time, I choose to put my family in the best situation I see fit. I will stand by my teammates & brothers to support them 100% throughout this season and will be counting the days until I can join them again.”
Albert Wilson II
The rest of the breakdown by positions:
Eleven wide receivers; eight linebackers, six cornerbacks, four running backs, three tights ends and safeties. The were no quarterbacks, kickers or punters opting out.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, a BMI of 40 qualifies someone as severely obese and puts them “at higher risk for complications from Covid-19”.
Should a player decide to walk away after Thursday’s deadline because of a changed medical circumstance, he would get a stipend – unless he already exceeded the value of the stipend in the time he was active. Otherwise, there will be no financial compensation for voluntary future opt outs.
There also are salary cap relief machinations attached to opt outs. Contract bonus payments due to be applied to the cap in 2020 will be delayed a year even though the bonus has been paid.