A team-by-team look at which NFL players have opted out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns

Frank Schwab
·10 min read

NFL players were given the choice to opt out of the 2020 season, due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. On July 27, the Miami Marlins in Major League Baseball had an outbreak on their team, which could have caused some NFL players to think twice about whether they want to play this season.

The opt-out decision is final and the players won’t be allowed to return. Players with preexisting conditions get a $350,000 stipend and those who opt out for other reasons receive $150,000. That is an advance on their 2021 salaries.

Here is our running team-by-team list of which players have opted out of the 2020 NFL season:

Arizona Cardinals: Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert opted out for the Cardinals, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Gilbert, who started 87 games at tackle for the Steelers from 2011-18, was a candidate to start at right tackle for the Cardinals this season.

Baltimore Ravens: Wide receiver and return specialist De'Anthony Thomas was put on the team’s reserve list as a voluntary opt-out. Thomas joined the Ravens last season after being with the Chiefs since 2014. Backup offensive tackle Andre Smith also opted out, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Buffalo Bills: Nose tackle Star Lotulelei has opted out according to NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo. Lotulelei, the 14th pick of the 2014 by the Carolina Panthers, started all 32 games for the Bills the past two seasons. Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart condition at the NFL scouting combine before he was drafted.

Cornerback E.J. Gaines has also opted out, general manager Brandon Beane said. He signed a one-year contract with the Bills in March after playing for them in 2017. Cornerback Tre’Davious White, a first-team All-Pro last season, decided to not opt out and will play in 2020 after considering his options.

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Carolina Panthers: Linebacker Jordan Mack and edge rusher Christian Miller opted out. Mack was an undrafted rookie this season. Miller was a fourth-round pick last year out of Alabama who played in seven games.

Chicago Bears: Eddie Goldman, a nose tackle and key piece of the Bears’ defense, opted out according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Goldman’s Pro Football Focus grade was the 17th best among all interior defenders over the past two seasons. Safety Jordan Lucas, who played 30 games with the Chiefs the past two seasons, also opted out.

Cincinnati Bengals: Defensive tackle Josh Tupou, who played in all 16 games for the Bengals last season and started six, opted out, as did offensive tackle Isaiah Prince, who started two games with the Dolphins late last season.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns had a few backup offensive linemen opt out. Guard Drew Forbes and undrafted rookie tackle Drake Dorbeck decided to sit out this season according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Guard Colby Gossett took the high-risk opt out according to the Plain Dealer, and guard Malcolm Pridgeon joined him right before the deadline. Defensive tackle Andrew Billings, who had 37 starts the past three seasons with the Bengals, also opted out.

Dallas Cowboys: Cornerback Maurice Canady decided to opt out of the season, according to the team’s site. Undrafted receiver Stephen Guidry also opted out, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Fullback Jamize Olawale has also opted out, the team announced. Olawale is the team’s starter at fullback, but played roughly 10 percent of the offense’s snaps last year.

Denver Broncos: Ja’Wuan James, who was being counted on to start at offensive tackle, has chosen to sit out the 2020 season after he and his wife gave birth to a baby boy in May. Defensive tackle Kyle Peko will also not play this season, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Detroit Lions: Wide receiver Geronimo Allison has reportedly opted out of the 2020 season, according to Adam Schefter. Allison signed with the Lions in the offseason after spending his first four seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Defensive tackle John Atkins, who played 12 games with the Lions last season and started six, also opted out. Center Russell Bodine, who started 74 games with the Bengals and Bills from 2014-18, added his name to the list as well.

Green Bay Packers: Receiver Devin Funchess, who was the Packers’ only significant addition at the receiver position this offseason, opted out.

Houston Texans: Defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has opted out, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Vanderdoes played three games for the Texans last season.

Indianapolis Colts: Linebacker Skai Moore, who played nine games with the Colts in 2018 and one in 2019, opted out according to the team. Defensive backs Rolan Milligan and Marvell Tell opted out as well. Milligan played 11 games as a rookie for the Colts last season and Tell, a fifth-round pick last year, appeared in 13 games.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Defensive tackle Al Woods announced on July 31 that he is opting out of the season, citing “the health and safety of my family.” Woods, 33, vowed to return to the Jaguars in 2021. Linebacker Lerentee McCray announced on Aug. 1 that he too is opting out, citing the safety of his family. Just before the deadline, the team announced cornerback Rashaan Melvin had opted out. Melvin was a candidate to start for the Jaguars this season.

Kansas City Chiefs: Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first NFL player to opt out of the season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Duvernay-Tardif’s decision wasn’t just notable because he’s a starter on the defending Super Bowl champions, but he’s also a doctor. The Chiefs lost another starter from Super Bowl LIV when running back Damien Williams opted out. Williams scored a pair of touchdowns in the Super Bowl. Offensive lineman Lucas Niang, a third-round pick out of TCU in April, opted out a few hours before the deadline.

Las Vegas Raiders: Linebacker Ukeme Eligwe, defensive back D.J. Killings and defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga all opted out according to the Fresno Bee. Eligwe played 24 games in 2017 and 2018 between the Chiefs and Giants, Killings spent last season on IR and has yet to play in an NFL game and Valoaga has 13 career games including four with the 49ers last season.

Los Angeles Rams: Offensive tackle Chandler Brewer took a high-risk opt out. Brewer was a 2019 undrafted free agent who appeared in seven games last season.

"With my history with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, I am at high risk and will opt out of playing in the NFL this season," Brewer said in a statement. "I would like to thank the Rams for their support and I look forward to getting back on the field in 2021 and beyond."

Miami Dolphins: Wide receiver Allen Hurns announced he was opting out on Aug. 4, citing the impending arrival of his baby son. Hurns, 28, signed a two-year, $8 million extension with the Dolphins in November. A second receiver, Albert Wilson, joined Hurns in opting out. Wilson had 43 catches for 351 yards last season.

Minnesota Vikings: Defensive tackle Michael Pierce, who signed a three-year, $27 million deal this offseason and was the only free-agent addition of note for Minnesota, has opted out of the season according to NFL Network.

Pro Bowl linebacker Dont'a Hightower of the Patriots is among the players to opt out of the 2020 season. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Pro Bowl linebacker Dont'a Hightower of the Patriots is among the players to opt out of the 2020 season. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

New England Patriots: The Patriots were hit hard by opt outs, with multiple starters and key contributors deciding to sit out. Pro Bowl linebacker Dont’a Hightower and starting right tackle Marcus Cannon opted out, according to reports. As did running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale and offensive lineman Najee Toran. Safety Patrick Chung became the sixth Patriots player to opt out, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, and Reiss reported that wide receiver Marqise Lee would be the seventh player to opt out a few days later. Tight end Matt LaCosse, who started eight games last season and caught 13 passes, also will sit out this season.

New Orleans Saints: Tight end Cole Wick opted out of the season according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Media. Wick played six games for the Lions in 2016 and eight games for the 49ers in 2018. Tight end Jason Vander Laan, who played two games for the Saints last season, also opted out.

New York Giants: Left tackle Nate Solder, who was set to make a $9.9 million salary in 2020, oped out. Solder survived testicular cancer in 2014 and his son has battled cancer too.

Giants receiver Da’Mari Scott also opted out. He played five games for the Giants last season, mostly working as a punt and kickoff returner. Cornerback Sam Beal, who played six games for the Giants last season with three starts, became the third Giants player to opt out according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

New York Jets: Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley is opting out because of family health concerns, according to multiple reports. Mosley has played two games for the Jets since signing an $85 million deal last offseason. Offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi has also opted out according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Koloamatangi, a guard, was activated off the Jets’ practice squad to the active roster last November. Receiver Josh Doctson, a former first-round pick of Washington, also opted out.

Philadelphia Eagles: Receiver Marquise Goodwin, acquired in a trade with the 49ers this offseason, will sit out this season via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Goodwin and his wife had a daughter in February. The couple had two miscarriages since November of 2017.

San Francisco 49ers: Travis Benjamin, an eight-year veteran who spent the past three season with the Los Angeles Chargers, was the first 49ers player to opt out. Just before the deadline he was joined by offensive tackle Shon Coleman, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero. Coleman was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was 18, according to Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee.

Seattle Seahawks: Guard Chance Warmack, a 2013 first-round pick, opted out, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Media. The Seahawks signed Warmack in March.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Offensive tackle Brad Seaton announced he’s sitting out this season, taking the high-risk opt out. Seaton, who spent last season on Tampa Bay’s practice squad, has not appeared in an NFL game.

Tennessee Titans: Undrafted rookie offensive lineman Anthony McKinney opted out according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Media. Undrafted rookies are not eligible for the $150,000 opt-out stipend.

Washington Football Team: Defensive end Caleb Brantley was granted a “high-risk” opt-out, a designation that allows him a $350,000 stipend and an accrued season (players not granted the designation receive a $150,000 advance on their 2021 contracts and don’t accrue a season). Linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons also opted out, telling The Athletic that he and his two sons have asthma.

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