Almost every team is affected, the Patriots more so than others.
The return of sports to regular play during the pandemic has been both a welcome respite and a confounding issue to grapple with, as there have been no fans at games, bubble locations sealing off players, and outbreaks taking place in baseball. The NFL is opening up training camps this week and a number of players are choosing not to play in the coming year.
Yesterday, the league had its deadline for players to announce they would choose the option of not playing this season, and 66 players have declared they will sit out the year due to coronavirus concerns. All but three teams will have at least one roster spot to fill, affected by a player absence. Atlanta, Los Angeles Chargers, and Pittsburgh were the only teams reporting no players will be sitting out.
The majority of those who abstain from playing are linemen, which tends to make sense as they are the ones assured of physical interaction on every play. Twenty of those staying out are offensive linemen, with 11 defensive linemen also joining them. The next most inactive position was wide receiver, with 11 players also staying out.
The league has set up a structured payout for those who reported they will not play. Any player not playing due to medical reasons will receive a $350,000 stipend. Any player sitting out over concerns will be paid out $150,000 against future salary payouts in the following seasons.
The New England Patriots will have 8 players missing the season, more than any other team. The next most affected was the Cleveland Browns, with 5 players opting out of the year. Also strongly affected are the Super Bowl champions. The Kansas City Chiefs have their running back Damien Williams sitting out, and there will be holes to fill on the offensive line. After starting lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif decided not to play a possible replacement is also unavailable now, as their recent draft pick, OL Lucas Niang, is also going to forego his rookie season.
Here is the list, by team:
- Arizona Cardinals — OT Marcus Gilbert
- Baltimore Ravens — OL Andre Smith, KR De’Anthony Thomas
- Buffalo Bills — CB E.J. Gaines, DT Star Lotulelei
- Carolina Panthers — LB Jordan Mack, LB Christian Miller
- Chicago Bears — DT Eddie Goldman, S Jordan Lucas
- Cincinnati Bengals — OT Isaiah Prince, DT Josh Tupou
- Cleveland Browns — DT Andrew Billings, OT Drake Dorbeck, G Drew Forbes, G Colby Gossett, G Malcolm Pridgeon
- Dallas Cowboys — CB Maurice Canady, WR Stephen Guidry, FB Jamize Olawale
- Denver Broncos — OT Ja’Wuan James, DT Kyle Peko
- Detroit Lions — WR Geronimo Allison, DT John Atkins, C Russell Bodine
- Green Bay Packers — WR Devin Funchess
- Houston Texans — DT Eddie Vanderdoes
- Indianapolis Colts — S Rolan Milligan, LB Skai Moore, CB Marvell Tell
- Jacksonville Jaguars — Edge rusher Lerentee McCray, CB Rashaan Melvin, DT Al Woods
- Kansas City Chiefs — G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, T Lucas Niang, RB Damien Williams
- Las Vegas Raiders — LB Ukeme Eligwe, CB D.J. Killings, DE Jeremiah Valoaga
- Los Angeles Rams — OT Chandler Brewer
- Miami Dolphins — WR Allen Hurns, WR Albert Wilson
- Minnesota Vikings — DT Michael Pierce
- New England Patriots — RB Brandon Bolden, OT Marcus Cannon, S Patrick Chung, LB Dont’a Hightower, TE Matt LaCosse, WR Marqise Lee, OL Najee Toran, FB Dan Vitale
- New Orleans Saints — TE Jason Vander Laan, TE Cole Wick
- New York Giants — CB Sam Beal, WR Da’Mari Scott, OT Nate Solder
- New York Jets — WR Josh Doctson, OL Leo Koloamatangi, LB C.J. Mosley
- Philadelphia Eagles — WR Marquise Goodwin
- San Francisco 49ers — WR Travis Benjamin, OT Shon Coleman
- Seattle Seahawks — G Chance Warmack
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers — OT Brad Seaton
- Tennessee Titans — OL Anthony McKinney
- Washington — DE Caleb Brantley, LB Josh Harvey-Clemons