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NFLPA Pushes For Strong Opt-Out Options, Stipend For Players If Season Is Cancelled

There remain several hurdles still standing that the NFL and the NFLPA would like to resolve before teams beginning opening for training camp, beginning this Saturday for select teams and rolling out to the rest of the league’s organizations, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, on July 28, this coming Tuesday.

Among the issues many players are most concerned about that remain to be addressed is how the league will handle player opt-outs. Yet to be decided is if or when there will be a deadline for players to choose to opt out, who would be eligible to opt out, what the standards for qualifying to opt out would be, how that would affect their contract status, and what sort of compensation would be involved in a player reaching that decision.

This sentiment was reflected in a memo that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and president J.C. Tretter sent out to agents yesterday as they updated on the issues. They laid out some of the broad details of the safety protocols agreed too, highlighting their desire to spread out the economic impact of the coronavirus over the season, and especially addressed the subject of opt-outs as an outstanding concern.

“On the contractual and CBA operations front, we continue to push the NFL for agreement on strong opt-out options for players, as well as determinations on stipends and treatment of player contracts if the season is cancelled”.

“We believe every player has the right to not only make an informed decision on his future, but also to have all the facts before committing themselves and their families to a decision regarding the most unique football season in history”, the statement continues. “We will be getting that information out to our leadership, our players, and to you as soon as it is finalized”.

Other major leagues such as the MLB and the NBA have seen some players of relative prominence choose not to participate in the 2020 season over concerns related to the coronavirus. In some form or fashion, the NFL will have an opt-out option as well, but exactly what form it takes remains to be seen.

As mentioned in the memo, their concern also deals with the potential for a cancelled season. It has been requested that players who report for a season that has been cancelled continue to be compensated in the form of a stipend amount of somewhere around $250,000 or so—which is less than half of the minimum salary.

While a few teams begin opening training camp on July 25, it will still be a number of days after that before anybody will be doing anything on the field. An August 1 deadline for choosing to opt out has been floated out, but it remains to be seen what this will look like.

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