Players can opt out of 2021 NFL season; no compensation

NFL players can voluntarily opt out of the 2021 season but will receive compensation only if they are deemed to be at higher risk for COVID-19.

The players have until July 2 to inform their teams of their decision.

Players ruled a high risk for COVID will receive a stipend of $350,000. Players who choose to opt out of the season but aren’t in the high-risk category are entitled to no compensation.

That’s a change from 2020, when players were paid $150,000 if they opted out without meeting requirements to be considered at high risk.

C.J. Mosley
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, 67 total players opted out, including Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder, Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower and New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley.

In 2020, an NFL player was considered to be a high risk if he had a history of at least one of about 10 medical conditions that included cancer, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure or pulmonary fibrosis.

Team Facilities Open To The Vaccinated

At the same time, vaccinated players are being cleared to essentially return to normal routines at team facilities.

Comparatively, a player who opts to play in 2021 but not receive the vaccine must wear a mask at the team facility and practice in a segregated group away from those who’ve been vaccinated. They’ll also be subject to a five-day isolation period if exposed to a positive COVID-19 case, whereas vaccinated players face no isolation.

However, those vaccinated players could be subject to testing as part of contact tracing.

There have been documented cases of vaccinated players and coaches in Major League Baseball testing positive for COVID-19.

In those cases, vaccinated NFL players would still receive per-game roster bonuses if a positive test caused that player to miss a regular-season game.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)