Broncos DL Kyle Peko Opts Out of 2020 Season Due to COVID-19 Concerns, per Report

Chad Jensen

The Denver Broncos veterans will report to training camp on this day. One such vet who won't be joining his teammates is defensive lineman Kyle Peko. 

Peko is exercising his prerogative under the NFL's new CBA amendments to opt out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns. 

While he might not be a star in Denver, or even a starter, fans are trying to understand why Peko opted out. KUSA's Mike Klis provided some context. 

At this point last year, Peko had left the Buffalo Bills’ training camp to be with his wife Giuliana who was battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The couple later said she was cancer-free.

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Based on his age relative health as a professional athlete, Peko himself might not be considered high-risk for COVID-19. But his wife's immune system might still be compromised in the wake of her battle with cancer and understandably, Peko isn't willing to roll the dice on the chance of possibly exposing her to the virus. 

It's a consideration many Americans can sympathize with. Every American has family members who are either high-risk with co-morbidity risks or in that age demographic (age-65 or older) that puts them in the same category. 

For Peko, it hits even closer to home because of his wife. The good news for Peko is that his contract status this year will simply be paused and resumed in 2021. 

If he is approved as 'high-risk', Peko will be given a $350,000 stipend, per the new CBA Amendments, while he sits out the season. If he isn't approved, he'll receive $150,000 as a stipend. 

Peko's exit leaves the Broncos with one less body to back up Mike Purcell at nose tackle, especially in the wake of the team's decision to release Joel Heath on Monday. The team has several intriguing options along the defensive line, but they're all ends, not tackles. 

Peko is a fifth-year player and originally entered the NFL in Denver back in 2016 as a college free agent out of Oregon State. He has bounced back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster and even spent some time in Buffalo. He has appeared in 13 NFL games. 

With the roster sitting at 81 players now, the Broncos have to make one more cut to get to 80 before the 2 pm deadline on Tuesday. Check back at Mile High Huddle for updates. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

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Comments (11)
No. 1-8
BobMorris
BobMorris

Keep in mind that the practice squad was expanded to 16 players, so it's possible that Peko could have been added there, even if he didn't make the 53-man roster.

Also, there's no limit on the number of accrued seasons to be added there, per information Lindsay Jones shared the other day, so you couldn't rule out Peko being added, had he chosen not to opt out.

TurkeyBronco
TurkeyBronco

Nose tackle trade coming? It's quite sensible from Peko as he's guaranteed the money which was no certainty even with an expanded practice squad. It also takes away any risk to his family and he now has over a year to study or work towards a career outside of football with money in the bank for that.

broncofan55555
broncofan55555

Even $150,000 is enough to barely scrape by on (I'm joking folks). Please put me on that plan as well. Given his wife's condition, it is probably a wise decision. So now, I would assume the Broncos only need to cut ONE more player by next Tuesday to meet NFL guidelines.

Erick   Trickel
Erick Trickel

Editor

Wasnt making the 80 either way.

Luke  Patterson
Luke Patterson

While I respect Kyle Peko's decision, I hope it doesn't spell the end of his NFL career. Like the rest of us in this world, NFL players are now making choices with regards to their career's and health.

BobMorris
BobMorris

One other thing to add: If Kyle Peko doesn't get approved for the $350K stipend, the $150K is an advance, not a stipend.

It's like an advance for a book deal -- you have to earn royalties equal to the advance before you get any more money. If you don't earn enough, the publisher can make you pay back part or all of the advance.

For Peko, if he gets the $150K designation, he has to make the roster in 2021 or he'll have to pay back the money. If he does make the roster, it comes out of a small salary (about $850K), so it represents a higher percentage of the salary than for somebody like Donta Hightower (who gets much more in base salary).

Unless Peko gets the $350K because his wife is at-risk, it's not as good of a deal for Peko as it first appears.

RBA
RBA

Claxx action Mr. Elway - allowing him the $350,000 pay. He is obviously nearing the end of his career so this decision to "lose a year" must have come after much deliberation. In a league with so many abusing women and wives it is great to see a man who loves his wife enough to make this sacrifice. I am proud to have such a man on the team I love and for that team too have such a caring general manager.

KeithCummings
KeithCummings

A motivated von and after chubb. Music to my ears and vic fangio no doubt.


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