John Elway Says There Have Been 'Some Rumblings' About Other Broncos Opting Out 'But Nothing Yet'
The Denver Broncos are on the doorstep of training camp. The rookies, quarterbacks, and rehabbing players reported last Thursday and passed through the two-stage COVID-19 testing protocol in order to enter UC Health Training Center.
The remaining veterans reported for camp this past Tuesday, with one player opting out due to the pandemic. Fifth-year DL Kyle Peko informed the team he'd be foregoing the 2020 season and the team has since placed him on the Reserve/Higher-Risk Opt-Out list.
The silver lining is that not one Bronco player has tested positive for COVID-19. That's the good news.
The bad news is that the NFL has seen 27 players (counting Peko) opt-out of the 2020 season. While there's been no word of any addition Broncos choosing to opt out, GM John Elway has picked up some buzz.
"I have not heard of anyone else so far," Elway said on Tuesday during a virtual press conference. "There’s been some rumblings about a couple guys, but nothing else yet.”
NFL players have until August 4, which is next Tuesday, to inform teams formally if they want to opt-out. Hazarding to guess which players Elway has heard "rumblings" about would be impossible, so I won't do it here.
But it's a real concern until August 4 passes. We know of two Broncos players who've had COVID-19 and quickly vanquished it. Star linebacker Von Miller was diagnosed early in the pandemic, while safety Kareem Jackson tested positive back in June.
By virtue of those players ostensibly having COVID-19 antibodies, they'd seemingly be less likely to opt-out but we can't eliminate anyone as a possibility at this point. For what it's worth, though, I'd be stunned if either Miller or Jackson chose to opt-out.
Although players lose no years of accrued NFL experience, they don't gain any either by sitting out the season and they also become one year older. NFL careers are finite and the view among most players is that after seeing all the preventative measures teams have taken to mitigate the risk of infection, combined with the vast dollars at stake, and the fact that no one is getting any younger, they're willing to take the chance.
There's also something to be said for career momentum. With how fickle NFL teams can be with regard to their commitment to players, even in the best of times, there's no telling when a player could suddenly find himself on the outside looking in, hat in hand.
The flip-side is, it's still a risk and these players, like those Americans who have to go to work every day amid a pandemic in order to make ends meet, would prefer to not expose themselves or their families to the virus. That's why the NFL's preventative measures are so crucial.
The Broncos' Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan has been lauded and accepted by the Colorado State Department of Health, as well as the NFL. Spearheaded by V.P. of Strategic Initiatives Brittany Bowlen, the Broncos IDER plan is extremely meticulous and comprehensive. That should give players peace of mind, especially if they're resolved to forego putting themselves in any large social situations where they're exposed to 15 or more people indoors that they don't know.
So far, no additional Broncos have chosen to opt-out of the 2020 season. Fans will take that as a positive harbinger at this point.