The permanent if not exercised (barring limited changes in circumstances), irrevocable if exercised (without exception) deadline for opting out arrives at 4:00 p.m. ET on Thursday. For some players, it may be too early to make a final decision.
Even if the shorts and T-shirts practice cocoon makes them feel safe, that sense of security could change once 11-on-11 padded practices begin, or after games start. But there won’t be a fresh window at that point to make a conscientious decision to walk away until the pandemic subsides or the preventive measures improve.
Remember this: After the opt out privilege evaporates, players have another way to walk away. They can simply retire.
And then, like Brett Favre did (and did . . . and did) they can unretire. There’s no magic to it. There’s no official paperwork to file.
You retire by telling the team (wait for it) you’ve retired. You unretire by telling the Commissioner (wait for it) you’ve unretired.
Both can be done over and over and over again. Your team must quickly decide whether to reinstate your contract, to trade you, or to cut you. (This year, there likely will be high demand all season long for the services of starting-caliber professional football players.)
Two questions need to be resolved before retiring. First, do you owe any money to the team if you retire? Signing bonuses, for example, represent advance payment for future services; there’s a chance the full signing bonus hasn’t been earned. Second, are you willing and able to write that check in exchange for the ability to retire?
If you’re on the fence about whether to opt out and if you’d like more time to consider all circumstances, talk to your agent ASAFP about whether and to what extent you’d owe money to the team if you retire later.
Andrew Luck did it last year, for reasons unrelated to the pandemic. You can do it this year. But don’t do it unless you’re fully aware of the potential financial consequences of doing so.