The NFL and NFLPA came to an agreement that allows players to opt out of the 2020 NFL season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are two categories of opt-out: high-risk and voluntary. Players who are deemed to be high-risk receive a $350K advance on their salary for the upcoming season. Those opting out voluntarily will receive a $150K advance on their salary.
The deadline to opt out of the 2020 season has been set for Thursday, August 6 at 4 p.m. EST. There are two exceptions where players will be allowed to opt out following the deadline. First, they can opt out if a new medical condition is diagnosed that puts a player in the “high risk” category. Second, if a family member dies, is hospitalized or moved to a medical facility due to COVID-19.
We’ve compiled an ongoing tracker of all the opt-outs across the AFC West. The current count is at eight players. Check it out:
Broncos DT Kyle Peko
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The first player to opt out for the Broncos was DT Kyle Peko. Peko played just 93 snaps during the 2019 season. At this point in his career, he’s nothing more than a depth player for Denver. His decision to opt out shouldn’t hurt their team in the grand scheme of things.
Broncos RT Ja’Wuan James
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Broncos starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James is opting out of the 2020 season. He took to Twitter to announce the news this afternoon, citing the unknowns of the virus and the health and safety of his newborn son. One can hardly blame James for his decision.
Both times the Chiefs faced the Broncos, they were without James. In Week 7, Kansas City had a total of nine sacks on Joe Flacco. In Week 15, they added another three against Drew Lock. It’s going to be really difficult to stop the talented pass rush in the AFC West without James in the fold for Denver.
This could precipitate a move back to tackle for former Kansas State standout Dalton Risner. Otherwise, the depth behind James includes Elijah Wilkinson, Calvin Anderson and Jake Rodgers.
Chiefs RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
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Duvernay-Tardif was the first NFL player to announce he was opting out of the 2020 NFL season. He plans to remain in Canada working as an orderly, which he has been doing all offseason.
“If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients,” Duvernay-Tardif said.
The Chiefs have a number of different options to replace Duvernay-Tardif at the right guard spot, including Andrew Wylie, Kelechi Osemele and Mike Remmers.
Chiefs RB Damien Williams
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Williams recently informed the Chiefs that he’ll opt out of the upcoming season. He chose to opt out to care for his mother as she was recently diagnosed with cancer. The Chiefs will miss Williams, but thankfully they drafted LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the draft. That, in part, offsets the loss of Williams on the field.
Chiefs OT Lucas Niang
Feb 26, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Texas Christian offensive lineman Lucas Niang (OL35) speaks to the media during the 2020 NFL Combine in the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Niang became the first draft pick to opt out of the 2020 NFL season. He reportedly opted out over family concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. This basically just delays Niang’s rookie season for a year. He’ll now be under contract through the 2024 season.
The Chiefs are uniquely situated to lose Niang as they’ve stockpiled quite a few offensive linemen. On another positive note, Niang will likely have a chance to train at offensive tackle full-time in 2021, rather than cross-train as a tackle and guard this season.
Raiders CB D.J. Killings
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 17: Cornerback D.J. Killings of the Las Vegas Raiders works out in a park on June 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Training camp for all NFL teams is scheduled to start on July 28, depending on complications from the coronavirus pandemic. The Raiders plan on hosting their camp in the team’s Headquarters/Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center that is nearing completion in Henderson, Nevada, this summer, instead of in Napa, California, amid the continuing spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
So much for Jon Gruden saying no Raiders players would opt out of the 2020 NFL season. Killings was likely cornerback No. 7 on the Raiders depth chart. That’ll hurt the depth of a position group that isn’t the strongest in the first place, but it doesn’t move the needle much beyond depth during training camp.
Raiders DE Jeremiah Valoaga
Aug 29, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga (78) sacks Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick (2) during the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Valoaga was claimed off of waivers by the Raiders last December when he was waived by the San Francisco 49ers. He had re-signed with Las Vegas as an exclusive rights free agent during the 2020 offseason. The Raiders now only have four defensive ends on the roster in Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby, Arden Key and Carl Nassib. An injury could put this group in a bad situation.
Raiders LB Ukeme Eligwe
Aug 17, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman (26) runs against Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ukeme Eligwe (45) in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Eligwe, currently with the Las Vegas Raiders, has decided to opt out of the 2020 season. He becomes the third Raider to opt out of the season. He was nothing more than a depth piece for a Las Vegas team that added linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski this offseason.