Ravens end with two players opting out for COVID-19 as deadline passes
The Ravens finished with two players — offensive tackle Andre Smith and returner De’Anthony Thomas — that decided to opt-out of the 2020 season over concerns with the COVID-pandemic.
The league and NFLPA set a 4 p.m. ET deadline on Aug.6 for players to give their teams written notice if they are opting out.
Ravens' undrafted rookie safety Nigel Warrior was among six players initially placed on the NFL's reserve/COVID-19 list. Players on the list might have either tested positive or were exposed to the virus, but teams are not allowed to disclose that information.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was confident the team was fully equipped to work around the challenge. He also respects the players' decision not to play.
"It’s probably something that you just can’t really spend too much time thinking about. We’ve had a couple of guys opt-out," Harbaugh said. "They were surprises, but in a sense that I wasn’t thinking that they would opt-out. But then again, when you look at the individual situation, you can go, ‘Oh, ok. I understand.’ Especially when you talk to the guys and they explain to you their thinking – that, more than anything, is where you get a good sense of where they’re at. I think it’s just one of those things you deal with. It’d be no different than an injury.
"Really, that’s the thing I think you compare it to, is just an injury. You can’t expect that stuff. You don’t really plan on it, but when it happens, you’ve got to respond to it.”
Thomas was signed to the Ravens’ 53-man roster in Week 10 and he returned 13 punts for 93 yards (7.2 avg.) and posted 10 kickoff returns for 166 yards (16.6 avg.) in eight games. He re-signed with the team in March.
Thomas was expected to battle James Proche, a sixth-round pick from SMU, for the top job at returner. Last season, Proche led the Mustangs with 17 punt returns for 164 yards and the Ravens are confident he can make an impact as a rookie.
Smith originally signed with the Ravens a week prior to the divisional playoff game against the Titans after Parker Ehinger was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Smith, however, was not active for the game against Tennessee. He then signed another one-year deal in February.
The Ravens brought Ehinger back to the team in place of Smith. The market for free agents could be thin for an offensive lineman.