66 NFL Players Opt Out of Season

Thursday was the deadline to decide
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 6, 2020 6:20 PM CDT
66 NFL Players Opt Out of Season
New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower (54) tackles Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) in November. Hightower will sit out this season.   (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

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, the AP reports. Players with a medical opt-out will receive a $350,000 stipend, while 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 season, which begins Sept. 10 with Houston at 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.

Cleveland was next with five players skipping the season. 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, adding, "Just like for the rest of America, it’s not easy on anyone right now." The rest of the breakdown by positions: 11 wide receivers; eight linebackers, six cornerbacks, four running backs, three tights ends and safeties. No quarterbacks, kickers or punters opted out. Should a player decide to walk away after Thursday 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.

(More NFL stories.)

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