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Report: NFL, NFLPA discussing opt-out option for players

NFL players will likely have an opt-out option for the 2020 season, but details are still to be negotiated.

A general view of the NFL Shield on the field prior to the National Football League game between the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 22, 2019 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The major professional sports are working to get their seasons started amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, but not all players are interested in risking long-term health issues. Athletes in the NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS have been making the decision whether or not to play in their returning sport, or sit out the 2020 season.

The NFL is next on the dock for sorting this out. The league is working on getting training camp started by July 28th, but is still negotiating a host of health and safety and economic issues with the NFL Players Association. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero is reporting the two sides expect there to be an opt-out option and there would be a certain date by which a player would need to communicate plans to opt out.

“My understanding is both the union and the league intend to have an opt-out for players who have either a pre-existing condition, family (members) with pre-existing conditions, just general concerns over COVID-19, would not want to play this season,” Pelissero said. “General managers were told on a call earlier this week there would be a specific date by which players would need to opt-out. That date is still to be determined.”

The two sides will need to sort out the specific date, but just as important will be sorting out what it means for a player’s contract if he opts out of the 2020 season. Pelissero reported the two sides could discuss tolling of contracts, but that is still to be determined.

Tolling means the contract essentially freezes. If a player was due $1 million in 2020 and was signed through 2022 and chooses to opt out, he would potentially not get paid for 2020, the $1 million would shift to 2021, and the deal would be good until 2023. The players’ union won’t necessarily agree to this, but it’s one negotiating point.