NFL coronavirus opt-out pay packages took pressure off players, union rep says

A total of 69 NFL players, including several prominent names, opted out ahead of a Thursday afternoon deadline.

A strong compensation package was a key factor in decisions by dozens of NFL players to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a top NFL Players Association official.

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A total of 69 NFL players, including several prominent names, opted out ahead of a Thursday afternoon deadline. Under a deal negotiated by the NFL and the athletes' union, players who opt out are eligible for pay packages ranging from $150,000 to $350,000.

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“Frankly it’s a testament to the strength of the opt-outs we negotiated,” players' association spokesman George Atallah told Sportico. “Guys don’t feel pressured to play.”

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Players who are considered “high-risk” cases for COVID-19 are eligible for the $350,000 stipend. To receive the higher stipend, players had to demonstrate a diagnosed medical history with a high-risk factor, such as cancer or diabetes, as defined by a list compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Those players also receive full benefits and an accrued season toward free agency.

Players considered voluntary opt-outs will receive a $150,000 stipend, but will not earn a season credit. The $150,000 is essentially an advance on future salary.

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Most of the players who opted out received the lesser stipend, according to Sportico.

NFL players reported for training camp on July 28. The league has canceled all preseason games but expects to hold a full regular-season schedule this fall.

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