The NFL reportedly wants to shorten the deadline for opting out. The desire to give players less time to decide on playing in 2020 comes from at least two specific concerns.
As one source explained it to PFT, teams are concerned that some players who think they won’t make the team are choosing to opt out and to take the six-figure stipend. While players apparently would owe the money back to the teams if they fail to make the roster in 2021, no team wants to have to chase a former player around next year in an effort to retrieve $150,000 or $350,000.
Another concern comes from an issue we’ve previously flagged: Some agents, per the source, are using the threat of an opt out as leverage to get their clients new contracts.
That’s not a surprise, and it’s not necessarily a sign of bad faith. For some players, consideration of the various risks that must be navigated before making a final decision definitely includes the reward. For plenty of players, a significant bump in compensation could be the difference between opting out and opting in.
We’ve yet to hear of any specific agents or players who are using a potential opt out as leverage for a new contact. That’s probably because the agents who are making these requests are being discreet, given the potential fan and media reaction to the perception that a shield is being transformed into a sword.
Still, if a player is truly on the fence about playing, the compensation the player will receive for assuming the added risk of playing in a pandemic definitely should be a factor. There’s nothing wrong in those situations for making it known to the team that more money would make a player more willing to embrace the problems of playing pro football in a pandemic.