Last week, Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first player to opt out of the upcoming NFL season. The Canadian NFLer and Super Bowl champion has a medical degree from McGill University and spent the past few months on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, working in a long-term care facility in Montreal. The 29-year-old will continue that work rather than joining the Chiefs this fall, as indicated in a powerful statement released Friday — one that was lauded and supported by the Chiefs, league, and the football community.
Duvernay-Tardif’s decision was announced just a few hours after the NFL and its players association agreed on a pact that would allow players the option to forgo of the upcoming season (with some pay). Players deemed high-risk will receive $350,000, and those who do not fall under that category will receive $150,000 in place of their normal salary. That ruling was included in the NFL and NFLPA’s agreement to allow training camps to open on time, maintaining the original date of July 28 after moving much of the off-season online.
It’s no doubt going to be training camp unlike any other, and may offer a glimpse into what the upcoming season could look like as far as safety protocols and pandemic-related regulations go — not to mention all the usual camp developments like cuts, signings, and rosters taking shape.
Here’s what we’re learning from camps around the league on Day 1:
Patrick Chung reportedly becomes latest opt-out in New England
The Patriots safety won’t play due to COVID-19 concerns, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
Chung, 32, is a huge part of the Patriots’ dominant defence. The three-time Super Bowl champion is reportedly the sixth Patriot to voluntarily opt-out of the 2020 NFL season.
Per reports, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, right tackle Marcus Cannon, running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale and offensive lineman Najee Toran have also announced they won’t play.
Growing list of players opting out
Tuesday saw several players exercise their right to opt out, with many expressing concerns over the safety and health of their families:
49ers’ Deebo Samuel could miss start of season
The San Francisco 49ers could be without their speediest wide receiver to start the 2020 campaign, as Deebo Samuel deals with a broken foot.
Bengals lock up their No. 1 guy
Cincinnati reportedly locked up their franchise quarterback on Tuesday, inking Joe Burrow to his first pro deal.
The top five picks from April’s draft are now all signed.
Viking’s Dalvin Cook reports to camp
Before Tuesday, there was some speculation that the star running back, who’s seeking a long-term deal with the Vikings, might hold out.
In reality, explained NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, there was “no expectation at all” around the team that Cook was planning to hold out.
While he could technically still opt out, this is a good sign of trust — and potentially some talks on a new deal on the way? — between team and player.
Gronk ready for a new era in Tompa Bay
At what point will seeing Tom Brady and Gronk on the Buccaneers not feel weird?
(Actually, it’s Thomas and Robert now.)
Rivera says Smith could be part of Washington’s QB equation
Washington head coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday that, if healthy, Alex Smith will become “part of the equation” at the quarterback position.
Smith started training camp on the team’s physically unable to perform (PUP) list on Monday, but that doesn’t means he’ll remain there. In fact, placing Smith on the PUP list right off the bat is the best option, as it gives both player and team the flexibility to ensure he is in fact healthy enough to return to full football activities.
A return to the football field would be an absolutely incredible accomplishment for Smith, who suffered a horrific broken leg in November 2018. Complications almost led to a decision to amputate, and a serious infection threatened Smith’s life.
As things stand now, Washington has plenty of intrigue at QB between Rivera’s backup-turned-starter in Carolina, Kyle Allen, and 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins.
Eagles place Jeffery on active/PUP list
Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery won’t be on the field to start camp, as the team placed him on the active/PUP list. Jeffery finished last season on the sidelines after injuring his foot in week 14.