Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is a starting guard for the Kansas City Chiefs and a Super Bowl champion. He’s also a doctor who has spent his offseason fighting COVID-19 in his hometown of Montreal, and because of that experience he has decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season.
“Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system,” Duvernay-Tardif said in a statement on Twitter. “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”
Duvernay-Tardif, a sixth-round draft pick in 2014, has started each of his 44 games in the past four seasons. He has also missed 20 games due to injury, but he was on the field for every offensive snap in Kansas City’s three playoff wins last year.
According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, players who voluntarily opt out of the season will receive a $150,000 salary advance and their contract will toll as well; in Duvernay-Tardif’s case, his $2.8-million base salary in 2020 will instead be paid in 2021, minus $150,000. Players have one more week, until July 31, to decide whether or not to opt out.
Duvernay-Tardif was the first, but very much not the last. A number of other players have also opted out voluntarily, including the following:
BAL WR/KR De’Anthony Thomas
DAL CB Maurice Canady
NE OL Marcus Cannon
NE FB Danny Vitale
SEA OL Chance Warmack
WAS DE Caleb Brantley
Brantley is notable as the first player to opt out under the “high risk” provision, for players who fall into one of the categories defined as high risk in the NFL’s agreement. This category includes asthmatics, diabetics, cancer survivors, and players with sickle cell trait. These players receive $350,000 in salary instead of the usual $150,000, and others are expected to follow Brantley’s lead.
The deadline for players to opt out voluntarily is August 1.
Patriots linebacker D’onta Hightower becomes the highest profile name to opt out for the 2020 season. Along with right tackle Marcus Cannon (high risk) and running back Brandon Bolden, that makes five different Patriots players so far.
ESPN is keeping a full list of opt outs here.