Teams now have clear incentive to cut unvaccinated players (but plenty will be safe, due to skill or salary)

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NFL teams cannot cut players who have not received the COVID vaccine. Thursday’s memo creates the clearest incentive yet to cut players who have not received the COVID vaccine.

The prospect of forfeiting games ties directly to outbreaks among unvaccinated players and/or staff. Thus, the fewer the number of unvaccinated players on a team, the lower the chance that unvaccinated players will force a team to take a loss without playing the game.

The financial penalties tied to forfeited or postponed games create an even greater incentive to shed unvaccinated players. Thursday’s memo explains that, for a rescheduled game due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players on one of the teams, the team with the outbreak “will be responsible for all additional expenses incurred by the opposing team,” along with any reduction in revenue that is directed to the league-wide visiting-team pool for the postponed game. If the game is forfeited, the team responsible for the forfeit must make the payment to the league-wide visiting-team pool for the canceled game.

Other sanctions could apply. “If a game is cancelled because of a Covid outbreak among unvaccinated players/staff, in addition to the financial penalties identified above, the Commissioner retains the authority to impose additional sanctions, particularly if the Covid outbreak is reasonably determined to be the result of a failure by club personnel to follow applicable protocols,” the memo explains.

So, again, the fewer the unvaccinated players, the smaller the chance that teams will experience such competitive and/or financial hardships. This means that unvaccinated players on the roster bubble or close to it will be at extreme risk for being released — even though vaccination status technically cannot be a factor.

The NFL Players Association currently seems unlikely to attack teams that make decisions in part on vaccination status, as long as teams are discreet about it. (In other words, don’t say out loud what Bill G.M. Brandon Beane said earlier this year.) That won’t stop one or more players from insisting on filing a grievance, or from hiring outside counsel who would be far more aggressive about proving that the player would have been kept on the team but for his decision to not be vaccinated. (In any such grievance, Thursday’s memo would be Exhibit A.)

Then there’s the fact that some players won’t be cut even if they insist on not being vaccinated. Whether it’s skill or guaranteed salary or salary-cap consequences arising from a termination or trade, certain unvaccinated players are and will be untouchable.

Case in point: Per a source with knowledge of the situation, one NFL team currently has eight players who will not under any circumstances get the vaccine. And seven of those eight players will not under any circumstances be released because of it, due to their skills and abilities as players.

That likely will be the case for plenty of teams. Although some players who won’t be vaccinated have opted to sound off about it, others surely are choosing to be silent. As we get closer to Week One, we’ll surely hear more about who is and isn’t vaccinated, and about whether those players who aren’t vaccinated will be on 53-man rosters when the season starts.

14 responses to “Teams now have clear incentive to cut unvaccinated players (but plenty will be safe, due to skill or salary)

  1. nobody said these guys are rocket scientists. Except for matty Patricia that is.

  2. They’re free to choose to get vaccinated or not. Their teams will make the correct decision whether their talent merits keeping them. But it won’t matter if those eight players are all pro bowl level talent, if they get infected during a critical stretch of games, their unavailability overrides their football ability.
    Should be an interesting season…

  3. “one NFL team currently has eight players who will not under any circumstances get the vaccine”

    ===============================================

    and in one case like this, if not this case, it is particularly despicable because the head coach had cancer last season, busted his arse to continue attending and coaching his team while going through debilitating cancer treatment, and now is more susceptible to serious COVID complications (largely but not entirely reduced by his getting vaccinated).

    Montez Sweat … you deserve respect for being honest and public about your decision, but the decision itself (to not get vaccinated) does not warrant respect … quite the opposite.

    HTTWFT!

  4. Of course the NFL is a dictatorship — it’s a private damn business run by individuals rather than a nation-state. Private businesses pretty much have the discretion to set their own eligibility rules. If players don’t like it they can work elsewhere rather than whine about it like a bunch of 13 year olds.

  5. Of course the NFL is a dictatorship — it’s a private damn business run by individuals rather than a nation-state. Private businesses pretty much have the discretion to set their own eligibility rules. If players don’t like it they can work elsewhere rather than whine about it like a bunch of 13 year olds.

  6. What will the league do if a team reaches 100% vaccination of players, personnel, and anyone attached to the team.

    Everybody in the organization is vaccinated and that team has a serious outbreak, prohibiting safely playing a game.

    Who will the league blame and what will they do?

  7. If you read the article, vaccinated players with an outbreak do not have the same repercussions for the team/players.

  8. The league has to show they are not screwing around. The league doesn’t have the extra week it had last year where it could move teams around. It’s a privilege to be able to play in the NFL. So everyone gets to make their own decisions. And there are consequences. This is a world-wide pandemic

  9. NFL is no different then any other big corporation they have the right to cut players for anything they just won’t tell anyone it was because of covid

  10. “The NFL is now a Dictatorship.”

    _____________________________________

    Actually, just the opposite. They’ve created an incentive structure so “the market” can decide.

  11. lewsblues says:
    What will the league do if a team reaches 100% vaccination of players, personnel, and anyone attached to the team.

    Everybody in the organization is vaccinated and that team has a serious outbreak, prohibiting safely playing a game.

    Who will the league blame and what will they do?
    ——————————————————————–
    There won’t be a “serious” outbreak if vaccinated. The vaccine prevents serious symptons, death, and wide-spread outbreaks. Lastly, the NFL said that a vaccinated player who tests positive must pass two subsequent COVID tests that can be administered 24 hrs after the positive test. Once he is negative on two tests, he’s back on the active roster. No 10-day quarantine is needed for a vaccinated player.

  12. Have any players cited religious beliefs as their reason for not getting vaccinated? Kinda seems like the NFL is attempting to give themselves & owners a big CYA with these new financial penalties.

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