After several days of discussions between the NFL and NFLPA about how to allow football players to opt out of the 2020 season, the two sides have finally fully settled on their framework for those decisions. Among the important information that players now have is the final deadline for most players to opt out and what situations would allow for a player to withdraw from the season after that deadline.
The information comes from NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, who revealed that the two sides have agreed to a deadline of 4:00 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, August 6th. All players, including players deemed to have high-risk conditions and those without, must make their decisions by that time. After that deadline, there are extremely limited circumstances under which a player can opt out:
Only two ways an NFL player can opt out of the 2020 season after the 4 p.m. ET Thursday deadline:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 4, 2020
- New diagnosis he has a high-risk condition
- Player’s family member dies, is hospitalized or otherwise moves to a medical facility because of COVID-19 or related condition
Those stipulations are extremely strict, and they will serve to further enforce the Thursday deadline for players who are on the fence. Additionally, the league has opened up the at-risk opt-out stipend of $350,000 to all players who meet those criteria, including undrafted rookies or players who did not have a credited or accrued season in 2019.
In the finalized agreement are a few other notable stipulations, particularly around roster composition and salary cap calculations. One of these changes is that any player who opts out will have any prorated salary cap hit from their signing bonus apply in 2021 instead of in 2020. This affects the Packers by shifting Devin Funchess’ $1 million bonus to next year instead of taking effect in 2020.
Additionally, there are new provisions for injury designations in the agreement. The league is allowing an unlimited number of players to return to active status off injured reserve, provided that they make the initial 53-man roster. It will also allow a team to promote a player from the practice squad on game day in the event that a player on the active roster tests positive for COVID-19 or is required to quarantine after the typical roster deadline the day before a game.
For the players, these changes mean that they must make their decisions sooner, but the highest-risk players — even those without any NFL service time — will all have the same benefits. The teams, meanwhile, have some added flexibility with the rosters, which should help them as well as the players.
Stay tuned through Thursday to see if any additional players opt out now that the agreement has been finalized.