Will some teams pass on players who opted out?

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The week began with Ohio State coach Ryan Day questioning whether players who opted out of the 2020 college season love football. The week is ending with chatter regarding whether one or more NFL teams will hold an opt-out decision against a player.

Per a league source, at least one owner of a team picking in the top 10 is hesitant to draft a player who opted out.

Others may feel the same way. And it will be interesting to track the expected and actual draft position of top prospects.

It shouldn’t be that way. Players not getting paid should not have been expected to assume the risk of catching the virus or spreading it to family members, based on the information available at the time. Moreover, with the NCAA largely if not entirely AWOL when it came to creating and enforcing standards for masks, testing, and/or distancing in facilities and weight rooms, players had to trust that their head coaches would take the situation seriously and implement reasonable safeguards.

Players like former Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley weren’t willing to assume that risk, and good for him. However, Farley recently told Chris Simms that Farley has been asked about his decision to opt out.

“I’ve got it from teams,” Farley said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just my personal situation. . . . I mean, it was something that I couldn’t ignore it, you know, I didn’t have peace about the situation. . . . It didn’t matter if I was the only one. I had to play it cautious. That’s just what I felt in my heart. And I don’t want to look back and regret because to this day I’m, COVID free. My father was COVID free and you know, I, I just gotta thank God.”

Farley’s mother passed away while he was in high school, and Farley didn’t want to give the virus to his father. It’s a reasonable and understandable position, and it’s unfair to question anyone’s love of the game based on the decisions they had to make during a rare set of circumstances.

But some (if not most) NFL teams still want players who won’t think, won’t question, won’t resist. They basically wants robots who will submit to the authority of the team. Still, it seems foolish and unfair to hold such an intensely personal and difficult decision against any player.

60 responses to “Will some teams pass on players who opted out?

  1. I can agree with the premise of not holding it against them but we saw what a year off from football did to Maurice Clarrett. I’m sure some owners have that concern.

  2. Completely his right to opt out, and also completely in the owners’ rights to opt out of that player. I see nothing wrong with not wanting to hire that player. Teams want players that live and breathe football. He make his choice and now will have to live with the consequences unfortunately.

  3. It won’t be cut and dry but the evaluation is close of course you take the guy that played last year. The players opting out should have known that as it is just common sense. If I was a top 10 or 15 player I might have taken the out to protect my future investment. Let the haters scream I don’t love football. I am protecting my future. It was all a personal choice and that choice has different circumstances for each player.

  4. I don’t think you should hold grudges against players or question their love of football, however at the same time if a player opted out they are a full year removed from competitive football and practicing/working out with a football program. That’s worth a good bit, in my opinion. At the very least, you have to assume a player who opted out is going to be behind the curve in the offseason compared to a player who didn’t.

  5. Disregarding politics for a moment, if that is okay, I am reminded of the saying: “Out of sight, out of mind.”

    Not judging, just saying… There will be a level of impact, whether it’s verbalized or not. Like we’re human or something.

  6. There is a lot of investment into the top players. It’s a fair question to ask if players love the game of football. After all that is what Belichick looks for in any player as a starting point.

  7. I am sure that there are teams simply salivating over the idea of folks passing on players like Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, Ja’Marr Chase, Caleb Farley and Gregory Rousseau because of the opt-outs.

  8. It’s a reasonable and understandable position, and it’s unfair to question anyone’s love of the game based on the decisions they had to make during a rare set of circumstances.
    ———
    Well what Day said and a coach/gm/scout asking about their decision to opt out are 2 different things. It’s no different than any other predraft question, you want to make sure they made a decision that they thought out not just followed others.

  9. “Farley’s mother passed away while he was in high school, and Farley didn’t want to give the virus to his father. ”

    If Farley didn’t want to risk giving virus to his father, then he should social distance from his father. Problem solved. How often are college football players around their parents during the season anyway? Farley’s father doesn’t live in Blacksburg, does he?

  10. you’re going to pass on Chase or Rousseau because they opted out? no way

  11. do teams ignore players that get hurt in first game of season and are out for it. Of course not.

    if they have no info on a player is one thing. But to pass on a known talented player because of opt out would be stupid.

  12. Feels a bit jaded to think teams aren’t looking at this from just a pure football perspective. Taking a year off from the physical contact is concerning if you’re going to spend a top 10/ first round draft pick on a player who may show up and not be ready to play football..

  13. And on the other hand, teams aren’t obligated to take a player who didn’t play last year.

  14. I would think that would be the case. I wouldn’t want those players on my team.

  15. I’m not concerned about 22 year old incoming rookies who opted out. What concerns me is established vets who opted out and thus fall out of football shape. CJ Mosley who has dressed for two games since 2019, so that’s concerning. Does LeVeon Bell and his missed year sound familiar?

  16. Just as you can’t blame any player for making Covid decisions for themselves last year, you can’t blame NFL executives for forming pointed opinions based on those decisions.

  17. Remember when Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett and USC WR Mike Williams sat out a year of college because they wanted to enter the NFL draft?
    Both ended up as busts.

  18. Teams arent passing up talent if its there. They wont care about opting out of a bowl game or a season. Posturing hoping a player will drop.

  19. Let me see if I have this straight: If a college player chooses not to risk his life and the lives of his family during a deadly pandemic, then he hasn’t shown sufficient commitment to football and his draft stock lessens? Really?

  20. Glad this is finally being discussed. What is stopping a guy like Micah Parsons from opting out again? Now we’re finding out people who already had covid are getting it again. Some of the vaccines have a less than 70% effective rate for 6 months or less, new cases popping up rapidly every day etc so who could blame him if he opted out again? Would be a real bummer to see your team use a high pick on a guy who doesn’t end up playing. That’s why the teams like NYJ, Miami and Detroit are really smart hoarding picks for next year. This year is a total crapshoot.

  21. Oh, but they are getting “paid”. They are getting value for their services – regardless of whether YOU believe it is fair, or they avail themselves of the education they are afforded.

  22. If you have two players even on your draft board, I would be more likely to take the guy who last played in 2020 than the guy who last played in 2019. That should be the extent of it.

  23. Is it really holding the decision against a player? Or is it reducing risk and taking the best possible player for your organization?

  24. It’s also fair to ask the prospective employee to explain their situation regarding the decision to opt out. It helps to know the thought process. If it’s just to keep himself safe, without mitigation, then that must be factored into whether or not that would translate to the field performance.

  25. Ryan Day doesn’t sound real bright. Let’s wait and see how well the guys that got the virus do over the next year or two. That virus can wreak havoc with your circulatory system, and do some damage to your organs. There are a lot of unknowns about the long term issues. The blot clotting isn’t good. It’s leading to strokes and other problems. Ryan Day obviously knows nothing about the way this virus attacks the human body. Most people don’t. I’d hate to send my kid to go play for a coach who has no regard for the health of his players.

  26. Absolutely the teams should take into account an opt out decision in their evaluation. There’s quite a few declaring for the draft who did not play a college junior season. There’s not a lot of tape on them. This means the risk associated with their selection is higher. It should not affect the decision to select or not, but it should definitely be considered in the round of selection decision.

  27. It hasn’t seemed to affect NFL players who opted out – haven’t seen any of them getting cut. If a team does have that cro magnon thinking, then a player may fall, but to a team that has more respect for their employees

  28. Just as the game has changed so have the players. It’s refreshing to see a family first approach with the new athletes and they shouldn’t be punished for it. If anything it shows that they are more aware of their surroundings and their situations. Good for you Caleb, someone is going to get a bargain for drafting later if he falls.

  29. Yes, and not just because they opted out. Guys will get passed over because they have no recent tape

  30. It is also harder to comparatively evaluate a player on year old tape. It could be as much about the lack of recent info as it is judging the motivation of a decision.

  31. These players are owed NOTHING! Playing in the NFL is an opportunity and an unbelievable privilege.

  32. is it because they opted out or because they do not have much tape on them for the last 12 months plus?

  33. Maybe they’re not just concerned with a player’s love of football, but also with a player being away from the game for a year and missing a season of honing his craft and getting better as a player, or at least not backsliding. If an NFL player were to intentionally sit out a season, for whatever reason, I’m pretty sure some teams would hesitate to sign him as well.

  34. “ut some (if not most) NFL teams still want players who won’t think, won’t question, won’t resist. They basically wants robots who will submit to the authority of the team. Still, it seems foolish and unfair to hold such an intensely personal and difficult decision against any player.”
    —————————
    This is also why players are warned about scoring too high on the Wonderlick exam.

    The NCAA gave players the option to opt-out. The NFL gave players the same option. It’s ridiculous to penalize players who chose an option their league offered.

  35. So what if a team passes on them, another team will take them.
    The worst that happens is the player falls a few spots.

    You don’t want to take a star wide receiver, the team after you is thanking their lucky stars, and they will draft him.

  36. These guys might have to prove themselves, just like everyone else in the draft. Imagine only making $500k for a few years while proving you belong. Hopefully they can find a way to feed their families… Poor guys, giant eye roll!

  37. Unless all the optouts are the very first players taken then I can guarantee some teams will pass on them. Probably won’t be because they opted out, though.

  38. Oh man, players aren’t saints. For every Farley who opted out for the right reasons we can guarantee there’s players who opted out to sit at home and play PS4. These guys enter the draft every year looking for a payday on a game they’ve played for years and are tired of. That teams want to protect themselves from these guys isn’t unacceptable. There’s big money at stake.

  39. Whether the reason for opting out is virtuous or not…..it’s still a season off which has an impact. A player could opt out for a season to go on a mission trip to help the poor….and it still would be fair for a team to consider that data when drafting a player.

    The virtue of the reason shouldn’t matter.

  40. These players should just be treated like any other player who was injured and missed a season. Evaluate the film and work them out to see how they are physically.

  41. short, stocky bald man says:
    April 9, 2021 at 10:59 am
    you’re going to pass on Chase or Rousseau because they opted out? no way

    ———————–

    You bring up two players who are in different circumstances. Chase had won a title and his game was very polished. I don’t think he falls very far. Rousseau on the other hand had questions around his game and I am seeing that me might drop. It isn’t the same for each player.

  42. On the other hand, one less year of the beatings & concussions you accrue playing football.

    Football coaches, as a group, tend to be single-minded choads, so it’s no surprise they would want all the players to think of nothing but football.

  43. You could also see it as an entire year away from contact. When careers average 2-3 years that could actually be a big deal.

  44. I think it’s fair to ask a player about the decision. It could reveal a lot about how the player thinks, and the extent to which the player is prepared to work to try and find a solution to a difficult problem before giving up.

    Bottom line is that a college season was safely and successfully played, so I think it’s completely fair to ask players who opted out about the extent to which they at least tried to be a part of that.

  45. They shouldn’t pass on those players that opted out. Cases line rashid bateman, where he has proven talent, only means that they are more rested and fresh than the guys that grinded it out last year.

  46. Imagine if our brave men and women who signed up to go fight in WWII when Pearl Harbor was bombed (my dad) quit when they were scared? Today’s generation is scared of a virus that’s 99.9% survivable. I wouldn’t hire a quitter.

  47. shanemcshane says:
    April 9, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Oh, but they are getting “paid”. They are getting value for their services – regardless of whether YOU believe it is fair, or they avail themselves of the education they are afforded.
    —-
    Play that out. If the idea is that attending the university at no cost is compensation, were the players truly getting the benefit of the bargain last year? Were they getting the in-person classes? Were the facilities all open? Was the experience the same? All of those things go into deciding if the price of college/university is worth the tuition, so those things are not there shouldn’t there be some additional compensation to make up for it? A lot of colleges gave partial refunds – what did the players get back for the diminished experience?

  48. I do think it speaks to how much they love football. The draft is a crapshoot, gauging a players love for the game is legitimate.

  49. I’d avoid resigning any NFL players that opted out.

    With college it’s different, since they aren’t getting paid.

  50. Sounds pretty ridiculous to me. Let’s see how many NFL players will keep playing if all they get is room & board.

    Nowadays, the owners, GMs, coaches, and players are all in it for the money.

  51. I would… reps and experience are the next most important to talent… if they are behind mentally then they should not go in the 1st couple on rounds!

  52. mhouser1922 says:
    April 9, 2021 at 11:23 am
    Let me see if I have this straight: If a college player chooses not to risk his life and the lives of his family during a deadly pandemic, then he hasn’t shown sufficient commitment to football and his draft stock lessens? Really?
    ____________________________________

    Deadly pandemic? The mortality rate is 0.4%, deadly pandemic my a55!

    GIVE IT A BREAK!

  53. Steve Cunningham says:
    April 9, 2021 at 9:04 pm
    mhouser1922 says:
    April 9, 2021 at 11:23 am
    Let me see if I have this straight: If a college player chooses not to risk his life and the lives of his family during a deadly pandemic, then he hasn’t shown sufficient commitment to football and his draft stock lessens? Really?
    ____________________________________

    Deadly pandemic? The mortality rate is 0.4%, deadly pandemic my a55!

    GIVE IT A BREAK!
    =================================================================================
    31 million confirmed cases, 565,000 deaths doesn’t equate to a .4% death rate. And we had to shut things down, wear masks, social distance, to keep the deaths to where they are. Additionally, it’s not just about the deaths, but the uncertainty of the disease, and the long-term effects that are currently impacting some of those who have been infected. 565,000 dead. What’s your threshold for being comfortable with the deaths of others.

  54. Football is a violent sport. The chances of incurring long term permanent physical damage are much higher than COVID rates. If a player chooses to opt out of the game he was granted a full scholarship to play in order to protect himself from a bad strain of influenza, will he be willing to sacrifice his body on the field to catch a pass?

    Teams have every right to be concerned about a potential employee’s priorities… Should we employ soldiers that run away from dangerous situations? Should such people be hired as firemen or police?

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