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Star Lotuleilei - Buffalo Bills
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Former NFL Quarterback Offers Advice To NFL Players Opting Out

Star Lotulelei #98 of the Buffalo Bills looks on during NFL game action against the Miami Dolphins at New Era Field on December 30, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – This NFL season is shaping up to be like we’ve never seen before due to COVID-19 and its impact. The league is allowing players to opt-out for the upcoming season.

There are players opting out for medical reasons like former Utah Ute defender Star Lotulelei is not suiting up for the Buffalo Bills. Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart issue at the NFL Combine so he is taking precautions due to his pre-existing condition.

The current number of players sitting out is up to 32. Some are sitting out because they are in a high-risk category and some are taking their own precautions to protect themselves or those around them.

Players who do sit out get a stipend that must be paid back if it is a voluntary opt-out and that player must be under contract, meaning no undrafted free agent rookie is eligible for the $150,000 by not playing. The players who go this route do not gain a year toward free agency, but the player does earn a year toward its pension.

If the players are in a high-risk category and opt-out, their terms are different, specifically, they get $350,000 for the season and that money does not need to be paid back. Plus, they get the benefit of an accrued season toward free agency and all benefits and minimum salary credit for a credited season. Players in this category are not required to opt-out as it is still voluntary.

NFL = Not For Long

One of the biggest names to opt-out is Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams. He is fresh off of a Super Bowl victory in which he rushed for 104 yards, caught four passes and scored two touchdowns.

He is 28-years-old but the main reason is his mom who has advanced stages of cancer.

“It was hard,” Williams said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “My mom is my rock, my everything. My mom, she just was like, ‘Whatever decision you make, I’m behind you.’ Football is my life, especially coming off a championship and wanting to do a repeat – which, you know, I know they’re gonna handle that. But at the end of the day, this was something personal.”

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