Sixty-six players have opted out of the 2020 NFL season because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first to announce his intention to sit out the season, and the deadline to opt out has now passed.
Players considered high risk for COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season by choosing to opt out of the season. Players without risk earn $150,000 for opting out.
Here are the players opting out of the 2020 season, with the latest at the top:
Doctson, a first-round pick in 2016, signed with the Jets in January. He has 81 catches and eight touchdowns in his career.
Melvin, who signed a one-year contract with the Jaguars worth $1.75 million in March, was expected to compete with third-year player Tre Herndon to start opposite rookie first-round pick CJ Henderson. The 30-year-old Melvin has four interceptions and 41 pass breakups in seven seasons with Baltimore, Indianapolis, Detroit, New England and Oakland. His decision to opt out could open up a spot on the roster for rookie Luq Barcoo, one of the most sought-after rookie undrafted free agents.
Seaton was a seventh-round pick by the Titans in 2017. He joined the Bucs’ practice squad later that year. Seaton started one game in 2019.
The Chiefs lost a member of their 2020 draft class after Niang told the team he would opt out of the 2020 season. The third-round pick from TCU is an offensive lineman. He figured in the playing picture at guard as a rookie but eventually could be moved to tackle. The Chiefs have several candidates to start at guard, including veteran free-agent additions Kelechi Osemele and Mike Remmers and Andrew Wylie, a part-time starter last season.
Wilson became the second Dolphins receiver to opt out of the 2020 season in as many days, following the announcement of Allen Hurns on Tuesday. Wilson, 28, had 43 receptions in 2019, which ranked third on the team. The Dolphins have one receiver with more than 1,000 career receiving yards on their roster — DeVante Parker — which likely means they will be on the lookout for free-agent help.
Tell, a fifth-round draft pick in 2019, was projected in a depth role in the defensive backfield for the Colts. He had 23 tackles and five passes defensed as a rookie last season.
Beal, 23, was expected to be in the starting mix along with second-year cornerback Corey Ballentine for a starting spot opposite offseason acquisition James Bradberry. Picked in the third round of the supplemental draft before the 2018 season, he missed his rookie year with a shoulder injury. Beal becomes the third Giants player to take the opt-out route, joining offensive tackle Nate Solder and wide receiver/kick returner Da’Mari Scott.
The Lions had their third player opt out of the 2020 season as veteran offensive lineman Bodine has decided to not play this season. The 28-year-old signed with the Lions in the offseason after being out of the league last year after being cut by New England on Sept. 6. Before last season, Bodine had been a starter every year in the league at center, playing four seasons with the Bengals and one with the Bills. A fourth-round pick in 2014, Bodine was expected to compete for what was likely the backup center spot behind starter Frank Ragnow.
Benjamin opted out of the 2020 NFL season, announcing his decision Tuesday night on Twitter. Benjamin is the first member of the 49ers to opt out for the season and his announcement comes one day after general manager John Lynch said he hadn’t yet had a conversation with a player who had planned to opt out. Benjamin, 30, was expected to compete for a roster spot at wide receiver and, likely, as a returner in what would have been his first season with the 49ers. He had previously played for San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan when Shanahan was the Cleveland Browns‘ offensive coordinator in 2014.
Gossett, 25, spent much of last season on the practice squad for the Browns, as he was promoted to the active roster right before Cleveland’s season finale. He played five games as a rookie for the Cardinals in 2018 after being drafted by the Vikings in the sixth round out of Appalachian State. The Browns have lost a pair of back-up guards to the opt-out in Forbes and now Gossett. Cleveland is suddenly thin on the inside of the offensive line, especially at right guard behind Wyatt Teller, who only started the back-half of last season.
Eligwe joined the Raiders as a free agent on Dec. 19, and though he was on the 53-man roster last season’s final two games, he was never active. Eligwe, who played in a combined 24 games for the Chiefs and Giants in 2017 and 2018, was an unlikely candidate to make Las Vegas’ roster this season.
Gilbert, 32, became the first Cardinals player to opt out of the season. Gilbert suffered a torn ACL just before Week 1 and missed the 2019 season after he was traded from the Steelers to the Cardinals in March 2019. He agreed to a one-year deal with Arizona this March.
Hurns is the first Dolphins player to opt out so far. Hurns, 28, had 32 catches, 426 yards and two touchdowns last season. He was expected to make the roster as the Dolphins’ No. 4 or No. 5 receiver this season.
Moore is the first Colts player to opt out of the season. An undrafted free agent in 2018, he spent the majority of his two seasons on the team’s practice squad and was going to have a difficult time making the roster this season due to a loaded linebacker position.
The Browns signed Billings this offseason on a one-year deal to combat their lack of depth up front last year. He would’ve been Cleveland’s top reserve defensive tackle, behind starters Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi.
Killings spent the 2019 season on injured reserve after suffering a torn pectoral early in training camp. Valoaga did not sign with the Raiders until the season’s last week and was inactive for the season finale.
While both Killings and Valoaga opted out, neither was expected to make the Raiders’ roster this season. In fact, neither played for the Raiders last season. Valoaga did not sign with the Raiders until the season’s last week and was inactive for the season finale.
Lucas, who the Bears signed to a one-year deal, was expected to compete for one of the club’s backup safety spots. Chicago guaranteed Lucas $340,000 for the 2020 season at the time of his signing, a clear indication the Bears considered the veteran a strong contender to make the final 53-man roster. The Bears signed several safeties in free agency, including Lucas, after last year’s starter Ha Ha Clinton-Dix left for the Cowboys.
Harvey-Clemons was going to have to fight to earn a roster spot this season. He was a backup linebacker in his first three seasons, playing mostly in sub packages in a coverage role. But with Washington switching to a 4-3 and having drafted one linebacker and signed two others — plus possibly getting back Reuben Foster — Harvey-Clemons faced a tough battle.
James has informed the team that he will opt out of the 2020 season. James, 28, was entering the second year of a four-year, $51 million deal with Denver. He was limited to three games last season because of torn ligaments in his knee. He tweeted a statement Monday, saying it was “tough, but the right decision” and cited “too much unknown about this virus & about plans handling it going forward.”
Miller believes that he is at a high risk for COVID-19. The 24-year-old was drafted to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but with the Panthers moving back to a 4-3 this season he was considered a backup edge rusher.
Allison, who signed with Detroit this offseason, was expected to compete for a depth roster spot on the outside behind Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. With Allison out, another free-agent signee, Geremy Davis, and third-year pro Chris Lacy could have good shots at a spot. It could also open up a bigger role for rookie Quintez Cephus. Allison is the second Detroit player to opt out, joining defensive tackle John Atkins.
Scott, a wide receiver and kick returner, became the second Giants player to opt out of the season.
Olawale became the third Cowboy to opt out of the season, joining cornerback Maurice Canady and wide receiver Stephen Guidry. Olawale has been the Cowboys’ starting fullback the past two seasons, and the team picked up his 2020 option earlier in the offseason.
LaCosse raises the Patriots’ total of opt-out players to eight, which is easily the most of any team in the league. He was entering his second year with the Patriots and sixth in the NFL. LaCosse played in 11 games last season in New England, totaling 13 receptions for 131 yards and one touchdown. He was projected to be on the roster again this year, complementing rookie tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, both of whom the Patriots traded up to select in the third round of the NFL draft.
Gaines, 28, missed all of last season due to a core muscle injury. The Bills re-signed Gaines to a one-year deal in March and were expecting the five-year veteran to provide depth in their secondary.
McCray became the second Jaguars player to opt out with his announcement on Saturday. McCray, who signed a one-year contract worth $1.047 million in March, is one of the Jaguars’ core special-teams players. He has 2.5 sacks in limited defensive reps with the Jaguars over the past two seasons.
The Jets middle linebacker hasn’t commented publicly, but a source said Mosley was opting out of the season because of family health reasons. In a span of a week, the Jets have lost their top two players on defense for the season. They traded All-Pro safety Jamal Adams to the Seahawks on July 25, and now Mosley is gone. Mosley missed 14 games last season because of a groin injury that required surgery.
Lee said Saturday that he has decided to opt out of the 2020 season, becoming the seventh Patriots player to do so. No NFL team has had more players opt out of the season. Lee, 28, became a first-time father in February, and said protecting his newborn daughter, Alia, and family was at the core of his decision. “This is a big sit-down process I had, with me and my significant other, as far as family goes. The risk factor in which we believe that’s going out there, it just wasn’t worth it in a sense. Just too many unknowns,” Lee told ESPN.com.
Rams tackle Chandler Brewer has opted out for the 2020 NFL season, according to an official team release. “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, per the Rams website. “I would like to thank the Rams for their support and I look forward to getting back on the field in 2021 and beyond.”
The run-stuffing defensive tackle signed a one-year contract with the Jaguars in March after spending the 2019 season with Seattle. The Jaguars struggled against the run in 2019 (139 yards per game allowed), especially after Marcell Dareus went down with a sports hernia. Woods was going to take Dareus’ spot in the middle of the defensive line, a spot that will likely now be manned by Abry Jones and rookie Davon Hamilton, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week.
Prince appeared in four games with the Dolphins in 2019 before he was eventually released. The Bengals picked him up toward the end of the season with hopes of having him as a depth option moving forward. He was inactive for Cincinnati’s final four games of last season. Prince was slotted to be a backup tackle in 2020.
Tupou signed a one-year deal with the Bengals after the team made him a restricted free agent in the offseason. Tupou appeared in all 16 games last season and made seven starts. The third year-veteran’s role increased in 2019 as the Bengals battled injuries and a lack of depth in the interior defensive line. If Tupou had played this year, he could have provided more depth to a unit that added D.J. Reader during free agency. Tupou was set to earn $2.1 million this season.
Atkins has opted out of the 2020 season, the first Lions player to do so. The 6-foot-3, 322-pound Atkins, 27, has played in 14 career games for the Lions. The Georgia product started six games for Detroit last season, making 20 tackles. Atkins was a candidate for a backup spot on the roster this season, one of the few holdovers from a revamped interior of the Lions’ defensive line.
Williams has opted out of the 2020 season, general manager Brett Veach said Wednesday. Williams, 28, led the Chiefs in rushing last season with 498 yards and five touchdowns. He scored two touchdowns in Kansas City’s Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Forbes, a 2019 sixth-round pick, was expected to compete for the backup spot at right guard this season behind Wyatt Teller, who started the back half of the 2019 season.
Dorbeck is an undrafted free agent from Southern Miss. He started 34 games in college.
In a statement posted to Twitter, the 32-year-old Solder cited family concerns, including his son facing cancer and his own bout with cancer. Solder also has a newborn son. He said he “will deeply miss my teammates, coaches and everyone in the Giants organization.” Solder, who won two Super Bowls with the Patriots, signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants, with $35 million guaranteed, in March 2018. At the time, it made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.
Vander Laan, 27, was set to battle for a backup/special teams job on the Saints’ roster after appearing in two games with them last season and also spending time on their practice squad. The fifth-year journeyman also appeared in four games with the Colts in 2017.
Funchess, who had first-hand experience with COVID-19 this offseason while caring for family members who contracted the virus, has opted out of the 2020 season. The 26-year-old veteran was the only experienced addition the Packers made to their receiving corps, which was viewed as one of the few weaknesses on a team that reached the NFC Championship Game last season.
Undrafted rookie Jordan Mack became the first member of the Panthers to opt out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No details on why he made the decision were revealed, but he was a long shot to make the 53-man roster.
Jets offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi, 26, opted out. He joined the practice squad last season and dressed for two games but saw no action. He was due to make $750,000 this season.
In need of more speed at the receiver position, the Eagles acquired Goodwin from the 49ers in April. He was part of the “track team” Philadelphia assembled this offseason along with draft picks and fellow burners Jalen Reagor, John Hightower and Quez Watkins. Family is top of mind for Goodwin. His wife, Morgan, had a baby girl in February after suffering multiple miscarriages.
Pierce is opting out for the 2020 season due to respiratory concerns, according to a source. The 27-year-old signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Vikings in March and was expected to replace Linval Joseph at nose tackle. The $3 million base salary Pierce was set to make during his first year in Minnesota will now be his salary for 2021. Because he falls into the high-risk category, he will receive a $350,000 stipend by opting out of the season.
Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin details how the team has handled the positive COVID-19 diagnosis of head trainer Eric Sugarman and adds that DT Michael Pierce has opted out of the season.
Lotulelei signed a five-year, $50 million deal with the Bills in 2018 and has started at defensive tackle ever since, operating as one of the team’s primary run-stopping defensive linemen. He signed a restructured contract this offseason, guaranteeing him $4.5 million in 2020; his new contract will now activate in 2021. Here’s one of Lotulelei’s teammates weighing in:
The reason a lot of players are opting out (besides health reasons) is if you have a lot of guaranteed money this year and the season is cancelled, they risk losing a lot of money
— Jonathan Feliciano (@MongoFeliciano) July 28, 2020
Goldman, 26, has been a stalwart on Chicago’s defensive line since he entered the league as a second-round draft choice in 2015. Bears general manager Ryan Pace has repeatedly referred to Goldman as an “anchor” of Chicago’s defense. He signed a four-year extension with Chicago prior to the 2018 season that contained $25 million in guarantees.
McKinney, 22, is the first Titans player to opt out. The 6-foot-7, 316-pound lineman signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent after two seasons at TCU.
Chung had agreed to a two-year extension with the Patriots in May that included a $2 million signing bonus and base salary of $1.1 million. While the move was made to help the team create salary-cap space, it also provided Chung with up-front cash and reflected his status as a lock to be on the roster, likely starting alongside Devin McCourty. Chung, 32, was set to enter his 12th NFL season, 11 of which he’s spent with the Patriots.
Wick has opted out because of an asthma condition. Wick, 26, was going to compete for a backup job this summer after joining the Saints’ practice squad late last season. The fifth-year journeyman previously played six games for the Lions in 2016 and five games for the 49ers in 2018.
The 25-year-old Vanderdoes is the first Texans player to opt out of the 2020 season due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The defensive lineman played in three games for Houston in 2019 after he was activated from the practice squad. Vanderdoes is opting out voluntarily, so his contract rolls over to next season, when he is scheduled to make $825,000.
Peko, who played in seven games for the Broncos in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, was again signed by the Broncos off the Colts practice squad last December and then signed for 2020 earlier this year. His wife, Giuliana, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year and Peko was briefly excused from Bills training camp last summer to be with her. He announced last season that her treatments had been successful and she was cancer-free, but her battle with cancer would put her in the at-risk demographic for COVID-19.
Guidry, who signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent earlier this year, will be placed on the reserve/voluntary opt-out list. Unlike veteran Maurice Canady, who opted out Monday, he will not receive the $150,00 payout. He will get to keep his $10,000 signing bonus and the Cowboys will continue to hold his rights.
Smith, 33, was the oldest offensive lineman on the team and was expected to give Baltimore experienced depth at offensive tackle. The Ravens re-signed Smith on Feb. 6 on a one-year, $1.07 million deal ($25,000 guaranteed). The No. 6 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Smith spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Bengals before short stints with the Vikings and Cardinals.
Hightower is opting out of the 2020 season, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday. A three-time Super Bowl champion and team captain, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Hightower traditionally calls the defensive signals and was going to be relied upon as much as ever this season after the free-agency departures of linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins Sr.
Mike Golic Sr., Mike Golic Jr. and Trey Wingo outline the financial ramifications for NFL players who decide to opt out.
Bolden, 30, was set to enter his ninth NFL season, and eighth in New England. He is a core special-teams player who provides valuable depth on offense. Bolden was set to earn $1.3 million in base salary in 2020, which was the final year of his contract. That will toll to 2021.
Cannon plans to opt out of the 2020 season, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Monday night. Cannon, 32, is set to receive the $350,000 higher-risk amount as a cancer survivor, a source told Fowler. Cannon overcame non-Hodgkin lymphoma after he was drafted in 2011. The news about Cannon was first reported by 98.5 The Sports Hub.
The 26-year-old Vitale, who was the team’s most experienced candidate to replace retired fullback James Develin, had signed a one-year, $1.3 million deal with the Patriots in May as a free agent. The contract included $100,000 in guaranteed money. Vitale, who has played in 44 career games, wasn’t a lock to make the Patriots’ final roster as he was vying for a spot against second-year player Jakob Johnson and undrafted rookie free agent Jake Burt.
Toran, 24, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 2018 with the 49ers and was vying for a backup role after spending the 2019 season on the Patriots’ practice squad.
Brantley, a 25-year-old former sixth-round pick, was signed by Washington in 2018. He was on injured reserve for 15 games last season.
The 26-year-old Canady signed a one-year deal as a free agent in the offseason. He played in 13 games last season between the Jets and Ravens with an interception and five pass deflections. Canady tweeted, “Family first money second.”
Family first money second #staysafe 🙏🏾
— 444 (@MauriceCanady26) July 27, 2020
Warmack, 28, was expected to compete with third-round pick Damien Lewis and others for the starting job at right guard. He signed a veteran-minimum deal with Seattle in March after sitting out the 2019 season to get healthy. According to a source, Warmack had a family member die of COVID-19 and other family members hospitalized because of the disease. He went back and forth on whether to play this season before making his decision.
It is believed that this was Thomas’ personal choice not to play and there were no preexisting medical conditions that factored into the decision. After being Baltimore’s primary returner last season, Thomas, 27, re-signed with the Ravens on March 14 on a one-year, $935,000 (only $25,000 guaranteed) contract but was considered on the bubble entering training camp. He will receive a $150,000 salary advance and was placed on Baltimore’s reserve list, which means he’ll remain under contract with the Ravens in 2021.
Duvernay-Tardif, 29, was the first NFL player to publicly say he won’t suit up this season. Duvernay-Tardif has been the Chiefs’ starting right guard for the past five seasons and played every offensive snap in their Super Bowl LIV win over the San Francisco 49ers. He is a medical school graduate from McGill University in Canada and had been assisting as an orderly in a long-term care facility in the Montreal area during the coronavirus pandemic. “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love,” he wrote on social media. “If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”