The Opt-Out List
What it means: Similar to contract buy-out incentives that companies will sometimes offer employees, players have the choice to sit out the 2020 season and still receive compensation. According to an update at Yahoo Sports, players who the league can determine are at ‘high risk’ to get the virus will earn $350,000 for opting out. ‘Low risk’ players will receive $150,000.
The timetable for decisions from players was a little murky, but on Monday afternoon, league insider Adam Schefter reported via Twitter that the deadline for making a decision is this Thursday at 4:00 pm. Eight Patriots players have already opted out, while no other team in the league has more than three so far.
Lions who have opted out so far:
- Geronimo Allison- WR
- John Atkins- DT
What this means in strictly football terms? On the Lions, following Atkins and Allison’s departures, it gives additional opportunity for rookies from the bottom half of the draft to make a case for roster spots and playing time immediately. Specifically, John Penisini and Quintez Cephus have to feel like the door is just a little more open for them.
The Lions having two players choosing to sit out so far is right around par for the course league-wide. For whatever reason, the Patriots are the major outlier here. A few teams have no one sitting the season out at this point, while the vast majority have one to three right now.
This list is by no means complete, and more players ending their seasons before it gets started shouldn’t be a surprise at all over the next few days. The greater effect on what is already an extremely fragile season remains to be seen.
My two cents: For this year and possibly next year as well, the COVID-19 Reserve will be one of those notable off-field talking points on every diehard NFL fan and analyst’s radar, as common as discussion about a point spread, injury report, or salary cap (it will likely affect all three of those things as well).
The policy of opting out is one that is open to plenty of discussions, and will set a precedent that factors into contract negotiations and insurance decisions for professional athletes and clubs even after this pandemic is behind us.
*For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health