The NFL’s opt-out deadline passed at 4:00 PM on Thursday, with no more Browns choosing to sit out the 2020 season besides the five that had previously been reported. In total, 66 players in the NFL opted out this season, with the New England Patriots being the hardest hit. The full list of opt outs can be found here.
The five Browns players who opted out for the 2020 season are OL Colby Gossett, OG Drew Forbes, OT Drake Dorbeck, DT Andrew Billings, OG Malcolm Pridgeon. Gossett is confirmed to be a high-risk player, so he will receive a $350,000 stipend this year. It is not known whether the other four players were voluntary or high-risk opt outs. If they were voluntary, then Forbes and Billings will receive $150,000 salary advances, while Dorbeck and Pridgeon should receive nothing, if I understand the policy correctly. Everyone’s contract will toll to the 2021 season.
As Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal helped point out, some players are choosing to play through potential high risk, like DE Chad Thomas, who tweeted this at the end of July:
Being at high risk because of complications ive had since a shorty, watching close friends lose parents and family members.. i can honestly say this shit is scary and on my mind everyday. I pray yall taking the right precautions for us to play. Im actually missing funerals.— Major (@MajorNine) July 29, 2020
In theory, players can still choose to sit out the season, but they would receive no contract flexibility for the deal they are on (it would be just like a holdout).
Cleveland lost all three of their backup offensive guards via opt outs, leaving only starters Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller at the position. The team could make a great effort to try veteran Chris Hubbard or rookie Nick Harris at guard, but signing at least two players seems like a more likely option.