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Dont'a Hightower, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Among NFL Players Opting Out of 2020 Season

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The NFL is on track to open the 2020 season on Sept. 10, but it doesn't mean there aren't plenty of concerns over playing during the coronavirus pandemic. 

By Thursday's 4 p.m. ET opt out deadline, 67 players around the league decided to sit out the season.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association approved a plan on July 24 to open training camp as scheduled and cancel this year's preseason games. If a player is considered high risk for the virus, he can earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season when opting out. Players not at risk will earn a $150,000 stipend for sitting out the season.

Chiefs right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first player in the league to opt out of his contract on July 24. Duvernay-Tardif, who has a doctorate in medicine, plans to continue working at a long-term care facility outside of Montreal after joining the frontlines in April. Numerous players quickly followed his decision and began announcing they would skip the season.

Here are the players opting out of the 2020 NFL season:

Arizona Cardinals:

  • Marcus Gilbert: The 32-year-old offensive tackle is opting out of the 2020 season, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Baltimore Ravens:

  • Andre Smith: Baltimore re-signed the offensive lineman to a one-year, $1.07 million deal ($25,000 guaranteed) in February but he will sit out the season.
  • De'Anthony Thomas: The 27-year-old wide receiver chose to opt out of the season. He spent the first five seasons of his career with the Chiefs before signing with Baltimore in November 2019. He re-signed with the Ravens this March on a one-year deal and will be placed on the team's reserve list, keeping him under contract with Baltimore in 2021.

Buffalo Bills:

  • Star Lotulelei: The veteran defensive tackle has opted out of the 2020 season, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. He was set to make a guaranteed $4.5 million this year, which will be pushed to next season.
  • E.J. Gaines: Gaines informed the team of his intention to opt out. He missed the entire 2019 season after suffering a core muscle injury but was expected to be part of the secondary rotation after he re-signed a one-year this offseason.

Carolina Panthers:

  • Jordan Mack: The undrafted rookie linebacker is the first Panther to opt out of the season.
  • Christian Miller: The pash rusher elected to opt out of the 2020 season. "After a lot of thought and prayer, I have decided to high-risk opt out," Miller said in a statement. "This was an emotional and extremely tough decision for me but one that I ultimately feel is the right and safest decision for me and my family."

Chicago Bears:

  • Eddie Goldman: The defensive tackle informed Chicago he plans to sit out the season due to health concerns. He was set to enter the second season of his four-year contract extension.

Cincinnati Bengals:

  • Isaiah Prince: Prince appeared in four games for the Dolphins last season before being released and later signed by Cincinnati.

Cleveland Browns:

  • Andrew Billings: The defensive tackle became the third defensive tackle to opt out this season. Billings signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with Cleveland this offseason, which will toll to 2021.
  • Colby Gossett: The Browns placed the offensive guard on the high-risk medical opt out list.
  • Malcolm Pridgeon: The guard opted out of the 2020 season just hours before the 4 p.m. opt out deadline on Aug. 6.

Dallas Cowboys:

  • Stephen Guidry: The undrafted rookie has also opted out of the season and will be placed on the reserve/voluntary opt-out list. Guidry will not receive the $150,00 payout but keep his $10,000 signing bonus. Dallas will continue to hold his rights.
  •  Jamize Olawale: He has been the team's starting fullback the past two seasons, though, he has played just around 10% of the team's snaps.

Denver Broncos:

  • Kyle Peko: Denver signed Peko off the Colts' practice squad last December. His wife, Giuliana, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma last year and Peko left the Bills' training camp briefly last summer to be with her. The couple announced last season that Giuliana was cancer-free, but her battle with cancer would make her high risk for COVID-19. Peko has voluntarily opted out for the 2020 season.
  • Ja'Wuan James: Denver's offensive tackle released a statement on Aug. 3 announcing his decision to sit out the 2020 season. James battled a slate of knee injuries in 2019, registering just 63 snaps. He was previously slated to earn a $10 million base salary this season.

Detroit Lions:

  • John Atkins: The Lions defensive tackle has opted out of the 2020 season after playing 14 total games in each of the past two years.
  •  Geronimo Allison: Allison signed with Detroit in the offseason from Green Bay, where he had 89 catches for 1,045 yards and six touchdowns from 2016-19.
  • Russell Bodine: Bodine became the third Lions player to opt out of the 2020 season. The veteran offensive lineman didn't play in the NFL last season after being cut the Patriots on Sept. 6. Detroit signed him during the offseason.

Green Bay Packers:

  • Devin Funchess: The wide receiver announced on Instagram his decision to opt out this season. "My closest family members have experienced the life-threatening impact of COVID-19 first hand and or their own safety, I've decided to opt out of the upcoming NFL season. This was not a decision I took lightly but it's what is best for my family and myself at this time."

Houston Texans:

  • Eddie Vanderdoes: The 25-year-old played three games with Houston last season after being activated from the practice squad. The defensive tackle was expected to be part of the Texans' defensive line rotation this season.

Indianapolis Colts:

  • Rolan Milligan: The safety opened the 2019 season on the practice squad before playing 11 games with the Colts, contributing 15 tackles.
  • Marvell Tell: The second-year cornerback had 23 tackles in his 2019 rookie season.

Kansas City Chiefs:

  • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: The 29-year-old has been the Chiefs' starting right guard for the past five seasons, but will continue working as an orderly during the pandemic. "Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals in our healthcare system," he tweeted. "I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients."
  • Damien Williams: The team announced that Williams informed them of his decision to opt out for the 2020 season. Williams later said he made the decision because his mother was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. "With everything else going on, she was the only one there for me. I never had the opportunity to have my dad there, so my mom is my rock, my everything. During a hard time like this, I think I should be next to her every step," he told SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

  • Al Woods: Woods announced he will sit out the season after signing a one-year, $2.75 million deal with Jacksonville this spring. "While I was excited to join the Jaguars, I have made the tough decision, given the current state of COVID-19, to opt out for the 2020 season. The health and safety of my family has always been the most important thing in my life. I love the game of football and will be rooting hard for my teammates this season, and I look forward to re-joining the Jaguars in 2021," he said in a statement.
  • Rashaan Melvin: In March, Melvin signed a one-year contract with the Jaguars worth $1.75 million. He was expected to compete with third-year cornerback Tre Herndon for a starting spot.

Las Vegas Raiders

  • Jeremiah Valoaga: The 25-year-old defensive end joined the Raiders last December after they claimed him off waivers from the 49ers. He re-signed with the team as an exclusive rights free agent.
  • D.J. Killings: Killings signed with the Raiders in May 2019 but spent last season on injured reserve after tearing a pectoral muscle in the preseason. The 24-year-old defensive back has spent time with the Colts, Eagles and Packers but never played in a regular-season game.
  • Ukeme Eligwe: Eligwe joined the Raiders as a free agent in December 2019 and was on the Raiders' 53-man roster for their final two games. However, he was never active and was not expected to make the 2020 roster.

Los Angeles Rams:

  • Chandler Brewer: Brewer, a cancer survivor, announced he was opting out on July 31. "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. "I would like to thank the Rams for their support and I look forward to getting back on the field in 2021 and beyond."

Miami Dolphins:

  • Allen Hurns: The wide receiver announced on Twitter that he will sit out the 2020 season. "Definitely wasn't an easy decision but I've decided to opt out to do what's best for my family and [me], especially with a baby boy on the way. I will continue to support my team and brothers across the league wholeheartedly and wishing them the best going forward this season," he wrote.

  • Albert Wilson: Miami's wideout announced his decision to opt out of the 2020 season on Aug. 5. Wilson caught 43 passes in 13 games last season. He has been with the Dolphins since 2018. 

Minnesota Vikings:

  • Michael Pierce: The free-agent defensive tackle reportedly is opting out this season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Pierce has respiratory issues and is considered to be in the high-risk category.

New England Patriots:

  • Najee Toran: The 24-year-old guard spent the 2019 season on the Patriots' practice squad and was looking to compete for a backup role.
  • Danny Vitale: The fifth-year veteran joined New England as a free agent this season and was expected to compete for the starting fullback job since James Develin had retired. He was one of the first Patriots players to voluntarily opt out of the season.
  • Marcus Cannon: Cannon, 32, joined the list of New England players sitting out of the season. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Cannon will receive the $350,000 higher-risk stipend as a cancer survivor. He battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma after being drafted in 2011.
  • Brandon Bolden: Bolden was set to enter his eighth season with the Patriots and earn $1.3 million in base salary in 2020. He became the fifth Patriots player to opt out this season.
  • Patrick Chung: The veteran safety reportedly has chosen to opt out of the 2020 season. He signed a two-year extension with the Patriots in May that included a base salary of $1.1 million.
  • Marqise Lee: The wide receiver is the seventh Patriots player to opt out of the season. Lee became a first-time father in February to a daughter, Alia. He told ESPN's Mike Reiss, "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."
  • Matt LaCosse: The veteran tight end is opting out of the 2020 season, according to ESPN. LaCosse was set to make a base salary of $1 million in his second season with the team.

New Orleans Saints:

  • Cole Wick: Wick spent part of the 2019 season on New Orleans' practice squad before signing a reserve/futures contract in January. Yahoo Sports' Eric Edholm reported the tight end opted out because of his asthma condition.
  • Jason Vander Laan: The tight end became the second Saints player to opt out.

New York Giants:

  • Nate Solder: The offensive lineman announced on Twitter that he has decided to opt out of the season due to health concerns regarding his family, notably his son's ongoing cancer battle and his own bout with cancer. His family also welcomed a newborn son this spring, stating "our children's health and the health of our neighbors comes before football."
  • Da'Mari Scott: Scott informed the team on Sunday August, 2 he will opt out of the 2020 season. Scott had two catches for 22 receiving yards last season.

  • Sam Beal: New York's cornerback opted out on Aug. 5. Beal started three games as a rookie for the Giants last season. 

New York Jets:

  • Leo Koloamatangi: The offensive lineman will sit out the season. Koloamatangi was active for seven games last season but did not see any playing time.
  • C.J. Mosley: The linebacker reportedly has opted out of the season due to family health concerns, reports ESPN's Rich Cimini.
  • Josh Doctson: The 27-year-old wide receiver signed a one-year, $825,000 contract with the Jets in February that will toll to the 2021 season.

Philadelphia Eagles:

  • Marquise Goodwin: NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Goodwin has informed Philadelphia that he will opt out due to coronavirus concerns. Goodwin has a five-month-old daughter.

San Francisco 49ers:

  • Travis Benjamin: Benjamin announced on Twitter that he will sit out the 2020 season, saying, "I feel this is the best decision for my family."
  • Shon Coleman: The offensive lineman became the second 49ers player to opt out. He missed the 2019 campaign due to a preseason ankle injury and will not play with San Francisco again this season.
  • Jake Brendel: The 49ers announced Thursday that Brendel, a center, has opted out of the 2020 season.

Seattle Seahawks:

  • Chance Warmack: Warmack signed with the Seahawks in March in hopes of restarting his NFL career after taking a year off. The 28-year-old guard was expected to compete for a starting job at right guard but has voluntarily opted out of the season. According to The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta, Warmack reached this decision because some people close to him have contracted COVID-19.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Brad Seaton: The offensive tackle started one game in 2019 after joining Tampa Bay's practice squad in 2017.

Tennessee Titans:

Washington Football Team:

  • Caleb Brantley: Brantley became the first high-risk player to opt out of the season, according to the NFL transactions report. He was poised to enter his third year with the organization having missed most of 2019 with a Lisfranc foot injury. 
  • Josh Harvey-Clemons: The 26-year-old linebacker opted out of the 2020 season. Washington selected him in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL draft, and he has played in 35 regular-season games, with no starts.