There hasn’t been a shortage of NFL players who have opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. On Thursday morning, the first 2020 draft pick joined the list of about 60 players as Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Lucas Niang informed the team of his decision to opt out, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Niang, who turns 22 on Aug. 19, was a third-round pick in April. He played the 2019 season at TCU with a hip injury and had surgery after the season. Niang was projected to compete for a starting position at guard, where the Chiefs lost starter Stefen Wisniewski during free agency.
He signed a four-year rookie deal worth $4.3 million. He was slated to have a salary-cap charge of $821,000 in 2020. He has eschewed the 2020 payout of $1.4 million in lieu of the $150,000 stipend this year, which is essentially an advance on his now-scheduled base salary of $610,000 in 2021.
The Chiefs recently signed veteran offensive guard Kelechi Osemele in the wake of another starting guard, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, opting out as well. He is expected to be a front-runner to play one of the open guard positions for the Super Bowl champions, along with veteran Andrew Wylie, who started 11 games last season for Kansas City.
Niang is the first drafted rookie to opt out of the season, but he isn’t the only rookie to do so. Four undrafted free agents — Carolina Panthers linebacker Jordan Mack, Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Drake Dorbeck, Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Anthony McKinney and Dallas Cowboys receiver Stephen Guidry — have done the same.
Players have until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday to opt out for the season.
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