A two-tiered opt-out system will be in place this year. It will classify players in two categories: those who opt out of the season because they are at high risk of developing coronavirus complications and those who simply choose not to play, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets. Players who opt out would receive stipends, Volin tweets, but must decide within 10 days if they plan to play in 2020. Players who are in the high-risk category will receive a $350K stipend and an accrued season toward free agency, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Players without such risk will receive $150K and no such accrued season, per Fowler. Although high-risk NFL players did not receive a deal on the level of what Major League Baseball players secured — where high-risk opt-out players receive their full salary and get credit for the season — but the accrued-season component is a significant win for players in the high-risk category.
There will be an opt-out exception for certain players. Players will be able to opt out beyond the early-August deadline, and apparently into the regular season, if a family member develops complications from the virus (Twitter link via NFL reporter Josina Anderson).
Days before full teams are scheduled to report to training camp, the NFL and NFLPA have reached agreements on other fronts as well. Here is the latest on the solutions the sides reached after months of negotiations:
- Training camps will still begin July 28, but the acclimation period players sought will take place. No full-padded practices will occur until August 17, Lindsay Jones of The Athletic tweets. Eight days of strength and conditioning will first take place before four days of helmets-and-shells work commences, Jones adds. Days 1-6 of camp will consist of COVID-19 testing and virtual meetings, per SI.com’s Albert Breer (on Twitter). This year’s camps will feature a maximum of 14 padded practices. That is down by just two from the 2020 CBA’s limitation but down considerably from last year’s setup.
- Teams do not have to cut rosters down from 90 to 80 players — a long-rumored scenario in this COVID-19 reality — until they begin practicing in pads August 16, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This will remind of the recent past, when teams needed to trim their rosters from 90 to 75 players before ultimately cutting down to 53.
- As expected, practice squads will expand from 12 to 16 players. However, a key caveat exists to protect teams from losing higher-end P-squad talent. Teams can protect four players from being poached by other teams on a weekly basis, Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets. Normally, teams can sign other franchises’ practice squad players if they promote them to the 53-man roster. In this historically unusual year, teams can block certain players from such advancement and have up to six players with unlimited experience on their taxi squads.