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NFLPA proposes opt-out clauses for at-risk players

There were also proposals for conditional stipends, but it appears there are still several issues that need to be resolved

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Super Bowl Press Conference Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The NFL and NFLPA continue to go back and forth about COVID-19 protocols and ensure the players are safe to have a season. ESPN’s Dan Graziano said the NFL sent a response Tuesday night to the NFLPA’s proposal on reopening protocols, but there is still no agreement. Players still want daily testing, elimination of preseason games, and for COVID to be classified as a football injury. (Non-Football Injury List allows the team not to pay a player.) Graziano also said there are no formal talks scheduled between NFL and NFLPA today on reopening protocols, though obviously, that could change. NFLPA is having an internal call this afternoon to discuss its response and is also having a call this afternoon to update agents. With the increasing possibility that California may be shutting down again soon, a delayed start to training camp feels inevitable. If Governor Gavin Newsom restricts gatherings of 10 or more people, say goodbye to a July 28 training camp start.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said the following proposals were sent to the league in an effort to have financial stability if a player decides to sit out the season:

  • An opt-out clause for at-risk players to receive a salary (but not bonuses) if they decide not to play.
  • An opt-out clause for players with at-risk families to earn an accrued season and benefits if they decide not to play.
  • An opt-out clause for players who leave the team after reporting (terms uncertain).
  • A $250,000 stipend guaranteed to all players if they show up to camp, and everything is shut down because of COVID-19 concerns. That amount rises to $500,000 if the season starts, only to be shut down.

Both sides haven’t defined “at-risk” yet, nor have they finalized how to apply for medical opt-outs, per Fowler’s article. Both sides did decide that if a player is serving a suspension and the season is canceled, the games unserved will not carry into next season.

The following are considered “high-risk” individuals, per a league memo on June 7:

  • African American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander
  • BMI ≥ 28
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hypertension
  • Altered immunity
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Cardiac disease

Both sides appear to be a long way off as several issues remain. The NFL doesn’t want to test as often as the players do, who requested testing every day. Players also want a lengthy acclimation period before practices turn to “full-go” to avoid injuries. Both sides have also yet to decide how many players each team can bring to camp. Remember these Oakley protective face shields? Yeah, the players are iffy on that as well.

Aside from that, everything is great!