There’s a rising number of players from around the league, including household names, opting out of the 2020 season. According to Mike Tomlin, the Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to have any, though he’ll respect the decision any player makes.
Speaking to the media Thursday, Tomlin spoke to the current NFL climate.
“In regard to the opt out, I haven’t spent a lot of time trying to anticipate potential opt outs,” Tomlin told reporters on a Zoom call. “Those are very individual decisions and we are respectful of those we will just deal with them if and when they arise.”
According to Yahoo’s opt out tracker, the league is sitting around 30 players who have chosen to pull out of the 2020 season. Some for voluntary reasons, others because they are at higher risk due to underlying medical conditions. Big names litter the list including Bears’ DT Eddie Goldman, Chiefs’ OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, and Chiefs’ RB Damien Williams, who made the announcement yesterday.
Two potentially higher risk Steelers appear poised to play. James Conner and Cam Heyward are expected to suit up this season. Conner could’ve taken a “high risk” opt out after his battle with cancer while Heyward has asthma and made his concerns over player health and safety crystal clear.
Keeping players safe will be the #1 goal of 2020. Tomlin touched on the group mentality needed to ensure there isn’t a Miami Marlins situation, where the alleged actions of a few spread the virus to the rest of the team.
“Because in this COVID environment, if you are not exercising digression and being thoughtful about how you move, that conduct is detrimental to your cause and ours collectively…it is one fail; all fail in this environment. We are going to continue to package the messaging that way and be very transparent. It is that. It is conduct detrimental to their efforts and ours.”
Because the revised CBA hasn’t been officially signed, the date for players to opt out by has been pushed back. Players will have one week from when the CBA is officially done to decide if they’re going to play or not. If the agreement is done today, that would mean they have until August 6th to opt out. Voluntary opt-outs will net players a $150k stipend this season, an advance of 2021 salary. Those considered high-risk will receive a $350k stipend.