Which players will opt out of the 2020 NFL season because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic? Now that the NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed on a plan to start training camps, we’ve seen Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif announce his intention to sit out the season, followed by several others.
There won’t be any preseason games this year, but the regular season begins Sept. 10 with the Houston Texans traveling to Kansas City.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, players will have seven days from the time the agreement is officially signed to decide whether to opt out for the season. Players considered high risk for COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season if they choose to opt out of the season. Players without risk can earn $150,000 for opting out.
Here are the players opting out of the 2020 season, with the latest at the top:
Lotulelei signed a five-year, $50 million deal with the Bills in 2018 and has started at defensive tackle ever since, operating as one of the team’s primary run-stopping defensive linemen. He signed a restructured contract this offseason, guaranteeing him $4.5 million in 2020; his new contract will now activate in 2021. Here’s one of Lotulelei’s teammates weighing in:
The reason a lot of players are opting out (besides health reasons) is if you have a lot of guaranteed money this year and the season is cancelled, they risk losing a lot of money
— Jonathan Feliciano (@MongoFeliciano) July 28, 2020
Goldman, 26, has been a stalwart on Chicago’s defensive line since he entered the league as a second-round draft choice in 2015. Bears general manager Ryan Pace has repeatedly referred to Goldman as an “anchor” of Chicago’s defense. He signed a four-year extension with Chicago prior to the 2018 season that contained $25 million in guarantees.
The 22-year-old McKinney is the first Titans player to opt out. The 6-foot-7, 316-pound lineman signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent after two seasons at TCU.
Chung had agreed to a two-year extension with the Patriots in May that included a $2 million signing bonus and base salary of $1.1 million. While the move was made to help the team create salary-cap space, it also provided Chung with up-front cash and reflected his status as a lock to be on the roster, likely starting alongside Devin McCourty. Chung, 32, was set to enter his 12th NFL season, 11 of which he’s spent with the Patriots.
Wick has opted out because of an asthma condition. Wick, 26, was going to compete for a backup job this summer after joining the Saints’ practice squad late last season. The fifth-year journeyman previously played six games for the Lions in 2016 and five games for the 49ers in 2018.
The 25-year-old Vanderdoes is the first Texans player to opt out of the 2020 season due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The defensive lineman played in three games for Houston in 2019 after he was activated from the practice squad. Vanderdoes is opting out voluntarily, so his contract rolls over to next season, when he is scheduled to make $825,000.
Peko, who played in seven games for the Broncos in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, was again signed by the Broncos off the Colts practice squad last December and then signed for 2020 earlier this year. His wife, Giuliana, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year and Peko was briefly excused from Bills training camp last summer to be with her. He announced last season that her treatments had been successful and she was cancer-free, but her battle with cancer would put her in the at-risk demographic for COVID-19.
Guidry, who signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent earlier this year, will be placed on the reserve/voluntary opt-out list. Unlike veteran Maurice Canady, who opted out Monday, he will not receive the $150,00 payout. He will get to keep his $10,000 signing bonus and the Cowboys will continue to hold his rights.
Smith, 33, was the oldest offensive lineman on the team and was expected to give Baltimore experienced depth at offensive tackle. The Ravens re-signed Smith on Feb. 6 on a one-year, $1.07 million deal ($25,000 guaranteed). The No. 6 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Smith spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Bengals before short stints with the Vikings and Cardinals.
Hightower is opting out of the 2020 season, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday. A three-time Super Bowl champion and team captain, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Hightower traditionally calls the defensive signals and was going to be relied upon as much as ever this season after the free-agency departures of linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins Sr.
Mike Golic Sr., Mike Golic Jr. and Trey Wingo outline the financial ramifications for NFL players who decide to opt out.
Bolden, 30, was set to enter his ninth NFL season, and eighth in New England. He is a core special-teams player who provides valuable depth on offense. Bolden was set to earn $1.3 million in base salary in 2020, which was the final year of his contract. That will toll to 2021.
Cannon plans to opt out of the 2020 season, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Monday night. Cannon, 32, is set to receive the $350,000 higher-risk amount as a cancer survivor, a source told Fowler. Cannon overcame non-Hodgkin lymphoma after he was drafted in 2011. The news about Cannon was first reported by 98.5 The Sports Hub.
The 26-year-old Vitale, who was the team’s most experienced candidate to replace retired fullback James Develin, had signed a one-year, $1.3 million deal with the Patriots in May as a free agent. The contract included $100,000 in guaranteed money. Vitale, who has played in 44 career games, wasn’t a lock to make the Patriots’ final roster as he was vying for a spot against second-year player Jakob Johnson and undrafted rookie free agent Jake Burt.
Toran, 24, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 2018 with the 49ers and was vying for a backup role after spending the 2019 season on the Patriots’ practice squad.
Brantley, a 25-year-old former sixth-round pick, was signed by Washington in 2018. He was on injured reserve for 15 games last season.
The 26-year-old Canady signed a one-year deal as a free agent in the offseason. He played in 13 games last season between the Jets and Ravens with an interception and five pass deflections. Canady tweeted, “Family first money second.”
Family first money second #staysafe 🙏🏾
— 444 (@MauriceCanady26) July 27, 2020
Warmack, 28, was expected to compete with third-round pick Damien Lewis and others for the starting job at right guard. He signed a veteran-minimum deal with Seattle in March after sitting out the 2019 season to get healthy. According to a source, Warmack had a family member die of COVID-19 and other family members hospitalized because of the disease. He went back and forth on whether to play this season before making his decision.
It is believed that this was Thomas’ personal choice not to play and there were no preexisting medical conditions that factored into the decision. After being Baltimore’s primary returner last season, Thomas, 27, re-signed with the Ravens on March 14 on a one-year, $935,000 (only $25,000 guaranteed) contract but was considered on the bubble entering training camp. He will receive a $150,000 salary advance and was placed on Baltimore’s reserve list, which means he’ll remain under contract with the Ravens in 2021.
Duvernay-Tardif, 29, was the first NFL player to publicly say he won’t suit up this season. Duvernay-Tardif has been the Chiefs’ starting right guard for the past five seasons and played every offensive snap in their Super Bowl LIV win over the San Francisco 49ers. He is a medical school graduate from McGill University in Canada and had been assisting as an orderly in a long-term care facility in the Montreal area during the coronavirus pandemic. “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love,” he wrote on social media. “If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”