Former Ute Star Lotulelei to opt of 2020 season due to COVID-19

Ryan Kostecka

Star Lotulelei is not going to put himself at risk.

According to a report by NFL Network analyst Mike Garafolo, Lotulelei will be taking a voluntary opt-out for the upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has been ravaging the world since March.

Lotulelei, who is the starting defensive tackle for the Buffalo Bills, is the first Bills player to voluntary opt-out for the season. 

He was originally drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, where he was a starter from day one of his rookie season when he amassed 41 tackles and three sacks that season. Lotulelei then signed a five-year, $50-million contract with the Buffalo Bills in 2018 — he reconstructed his contract this season to make $4.5 million guaranteed before his contract resumes beginning with the 2021 season.

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With Lotulelei opting out for this upcoming season, it means that 2019 first round draft pick Ed Oliver will have to step in and fill the role of run-stopper for the Bills — who also added Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson in the 2020 offseason.

Throughout his professional career, Lotulelei has amassed 169 tackles, 13.5 sacks, seven passes defended, two forced fumbles and one interception — which happened this past season. 

Lotulelei's best season with Utah came during the 2011 campaign when he was a junior — in which he was named to the all-Pac-12 first team and won the Morris Trophy as the league's best defensive lineman. He opted out of the 2012 NFL draft, electing to return for his senior season where he really made a name for himself in NFL circles with a memorable matchup against USC center Khaled Holmes.

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