Before Thursday’s deadline for players to opt out of taking part in the 2020 season, PFT noted that any player who decided not to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic after the deadline would have the option of retiring.
Panthers tackle Russell Okung is reportedly considering that option. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports that Okung, who dealt with blood clots in his lungs last year, is “comfortable” retiring if he feels that the environment is not a safe one.
Okung signed a four-year contract with the Chargers in 2017 that included a $10 million signing bonus. While he was traded to the Panthers this offseason, Okung would still be obligated to return the $2.5 million prorated portion of the bonus still on the books.
That would not have been the case if Okung had opted out before Thursday’s deadline. His contract would have tolled and he would have either received a $150,000 advance or, if he was found to be at high risk of COVID-19 complications, a $350,000 stipend.
If Okung did elect to retire, he would be able to reverse course down the line. The Panthers would then be left with the choice of honoring the remainder of his contract, trading him or releasing him.