With teams around the NFL set to begin training camps as they proceed through COVID-19 testing protocols, each day we hear more news about players opting out of the season in fear of the virus. Suddenly, teams are tasked with replacing these players. Of course, no one will blame them for fearing of contracting the virus and giving it to a vulnerable family member or friend. Some of them starters, some of them reserves. Either way teams are increasingly in need of filling these positions.
Here is an updated list of players who will not be playing this NFL season.
As you can see, there are some high profile names who will not be on the field come September. Now, of course, one would have to hope that some sort of vaccine or effective treatment could come out before Week 1 so these players could join their teams, however, a cure that soon seems unlikely. So we are left with the question, who’s the next man up?
That very question is floating around Gillette Stadium with veteran players such as LB Dont’a Hightower, OT Marcus Cannon, and S Patrick Chung all opting out of play this coming season. Of course, any player opting out is a surprise but having six players choosing not to play for a Patriots team that is looking to rebuild after key departures this offseason is troubling to say the least for Bill Belichick and Co. The addition of 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton at QB was a major high for the Patriots, but with a team that has relied on a stellar defense and a consistently top tier offensive line for the last twenty years, the lack of playmakers on both sides of the ball is troubling. Nevertheless, they still have the GOAT of all coaches in Bill Belichick. As usual, there are tons of rumors going around about Belichick being behind all of this, scheming to continue the longest dynasty in all of sports history. Regardless, with $22M in cap space, the Patriots could be looking to add someone like a DL Jadeveon Clowney or even former Patriot CB Logan Ryan to add some veteran depth. Whatever happens with this virus and the upcoming NFL season, we should all know now to expect the unexpected.
Other key names include Kansas City Chiefs RB “Playoff” Damien Williams…if that’s even his nickname. This comes at an interesting time as they just drafted former LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire who is now positioned to be the Week 1 starter for the Chiefs and possibly the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year. It sure does help when you have the best player in the NFL at QB and numerous All-Pros across the board. If Edwards-Helaire meets expectations in just year 1, what does that mean for the guy who has a heraled nickname in the team’s prior Super Bowl run in 2019? As with the Patriots situation, only time will tell.
Giants OT Nate Solder, Chiefs G Laurent Durvenary-Tardiff (working in a Canadian hospital instead…hero), Packers WR Devin Funchess, Bears DT Eddie Goldman, and Eagles WR Marquise Goodwin are a few other names who recently added themselves to the list of players not participating this coming season. Will these teams have enough depth to replace these players and still be successful?
Coaches always preach “next man up” when it comes to reserve players who are eager to make the team and get some playing time. Well now, they have the opportunity. Unfortunately for teams needing to find replacements, the NFL and NFLPA agreed on no preseason games so only training camps and practices will be places for coaches to evaluate their talent. This, to me, seems like a recipe for disaster as guys going up against the same players every single day with no in game experience could lead to “false positive” analysis of a player’s capability to perform well come Week 1. We already thought this season was going to be unprecedented by the personnel changes amongst the teams, but now COVID might have another plan in store come September.