The NFL is allowing players to opt out of the 2021 NFL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some stipulations that they didn’t have last season.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Kansas City Chiefs players and players across the league have until Friday, July 2 to officially opt out of the 2021 NFL season. Players who choose to opt out will have their contracts paused for the year, essentially picking up where they left off the following season without the team losing a year of control.
Only players who are deemed “higher risk” opt outs will receive a $350,000 stipend from the league. Last season, players who voluntarily opted out received a $150,000 stipend against their future salary. This year, they’ll have to make due on their own dime.
Another change is that the NFLPA and NFL agreed that rookies are no longer eligible to opt out. That’s good news for the Chiefs, given expectations of the incoming rookie class. They’ll all play this upcoming season, barring no changes. In 2020, rookie OT Lucas Niang was one of three players who opted out in Kansas City.
In total, 69 NFL players opted out of the 2020 season, including three Chiefs players. Niang, RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and RB Damien Williams all opted out for various reasons. Niang and Duvernay-Tardif remain on the 90-man offseason roster, but Williams was released ahead of the 2021 free agency period.
The NFL is expecting fewer opt outs this season, but it was important to give players the option, especially those considered in the “high risk” category. Andy Reid maintains that the Chiefs are “one of the top teams” when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations. That should lead the way for fewer opt-outs for Kansas City, if any at all, for the upcoming season.
Remember, a total of eight Chiefs players were sent to the Reserve/COVID-19 list during the 2020 NFL season. The majority of those were due to high-risk contact tracing rather than a positive test.
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