Why NFL Player Opt-Outs Could Continue Even After Deadline

Sixty-five NFL players opted out of the 2020 season ahead of Thursday’s league-imposed deadline. And though that deadline has now passed, more opt-outs could be coming.

Former New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins said Thursday that players will continue to consider opting out if they feel wary about their health or their family’s health.

“I just felt like we needed more time,” Collins, now with the Detroit Lions, said in a video conference with reporters, as transcribed by the Detroit Free Press. “We need more time, and now that today’s the deadline, still later down the road, it’s still going to be a problem because there’s a lot of guys that it’s going to be — emotions are really going to come out if it hits home and affects people that are very close to them or somebody that’s near and dear to them.

“Like, people are going to want to opt out regardless of the deadline. It’s not going to mean anything, because (the virus is) serious.”

Patriots safety Devin McCourty blasted the NFL last week for moving up its opt-out deadline, calling the move “B.S.” and “an absolute joke.” McCourty was not among the league-high eight Patriots players who chose to opt out.

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Collins, who signed with the Lions in March, spoke at length about the uncertainty players are feeling as the season approaches and the COVID-19 pandemic persists. Most players returned to their team facilities for the first time this past weekend.

“It’s hard because you’ve got to live day-to-day,” he told reporters. “It’s a day-to-day thing with this situation that we’re living in. Like, I don’t know how close it’s going to hit home, you get what I’m saying? Like, my son might get it, sister, whoever. I don’t know whether my teammates, somebody close to me, I don’t know who might get it. I might get it, and I might just be down bad, like real bad, sick as a dog. Can’t breathe, can’t do anything.

“Like, I don’t know. And then the next day, I just might (say), ‘You know what, (I need to) sit down, take care of my body.’ You never know the situation, so obviously if we had more time, it’s good for the players. But we didn’t have much time.”

He added: “That’s the problem. We don’t know how close it’s going to hit home, and we don’t know the impact it’s going to have when it do hit home, if it do. Lord bless us in ways that it don’t. But just if it does, we don’t know.”

The agreement struck between the NFL and NFLPA earlier this week allows players to opt out beyond the deadline if a family member dies from or is hospitalized due to the coronavirus. But, as Collins alluded to, the league would not be able to force a concerned player to participate in the season if he refuses to do so.

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