NFL Notes: 2020 Season, 2021 Draft, Opt-Outs

2020 Season 

  • NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero reports that the NFL Management Council sent clubs an updated discipline schedule, including fines and suspensions for “High-Risk COVID-19 conduct,” such as going to clubs, bars, and house parties without PPE.
  • Other potential fines for violating protocols include a written warning for a first offense. Refusal to submit to virus testing will result in a $50,000 fine, refusal to wear mask, PPE or tracking device, or maintain social distancing during team travel will result in progressive discipline or fines of up to $14,650. (Peliserro)
  • All Tier 1 and Tier 2 non-player club employees (coaches, medical staff, et al.) are subject to discipline that is comparable to what may be imposed on players for violations of the rules and Commission Roger Goodell may discipline clubs that don’t self-impose discipline. (Peliserro)
  • Pelissero also reports that any player defined as higher-risk — including undrafted free agents and players who didn’t earn a credited season in 2019 — qualify for the same $350,000 stipend if they choose to opt-out of the 2020 season.
  • Pelissero reports that if a player is diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined on the night before or morning of a game, the NFL will permit clubs to elevate a practice squad player with notice to the league office up until 90 minutes before kickoff.
  • The NFL and NFLPA agreed to extend the deadline for players living with high-risk individual(s) to request alternate housing for the entire season to Week 1, or seven days after a later diagnosis. Clubs must provide housing, which counts as a player benefit cost. (Pelissero)
  • The NFL agreed to keep certain procedures like the expanded practice squad and the opt-out rights in 2021 if the testing protocols for COVID-19 remain in place. (Pelissero)

2021 NFL Draft

  • Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman announced he will be opting out of his junior season due to uncertainty from the pandemic and will instead focus on training for the 2021 NFL Draft. (Twitter)
  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer had Bateman listed as a prospect who had already established himself enough as an early pick to be able to declare.
  • Breer also mentioned LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase, Clemson RB Travis Etienne, Penn State LB Micah Parsons, Miami DE Gregory Rousseau, Oregon OT Penei Sewell, Alabama WR Devonta Smith, Alabama CB Patrick Surtain, Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle, Ohio State CB Shaun Wade and Florida State DT Marvin Wilson as players in a similar position.
  • Breer noted Alabama LB Dylan Moses might need to play given he’s coming off of an injury, while other running backs like Moses’ teammate Najee Harris could skip the season to save mileage on their bodies.
  • Breer added there are three quarterbacks who already are looking like probable first-round picks, including Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.


  • With the NFL’s opt-out deadline set for Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero says there will be two exceptions — if a player receives a high-risk diagnosis after the deadline or if a close family member dies, is hospitalized or moves to a medical facility because of COVID-19 or related condition. 
  • Pelissero confirmed the $150,000 for voluntary opt-outs is a salary advance that will come out of a player’s tolled contract or will be required to be paid back. However, the $350,000 for high-risk opt-outs is a stipend and not an advance that must be paid back. 
  • In addition to unearned salaries and bonuses, players who opt out will also have any signing bonus proration removed from the 2020 cap and pushed to future years. Basically the entire contract tolls when a player opts out. (Pelissero)

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