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Notes: NFL offering voluntary opt outs again in 2021

For some players, it will be a financially complex decision.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

According to a post by the Around the NFL staff on the league site and reporting by Tom Pelissero, players will once again have the option to voluntarily opt out of playing in 2021. The deadline to make the decision to opt-out, which cannot be reversed once made, is next Friday:

The mechanism to opt-out looks like it will be similar to the clause from the 2020 season, with a few eligibility differences. As Pelissero mentions above, it will only be available to players who were already signed to contracts before October of last year. While the consequences for rookies are interesting, it’s even more interesting how this could play out with certain veterans.

Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk pointed out how the language in the policy leaves an opening for veteran guest Jeopardy hosts who chose not to show up to mandatory minicamp this year. Nobody knows exactly what is going on in Green Bay, but if future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers truly prefers not to play for the Packers this year, there are curious financial consequences of opting out (emphasis added):

The benefit to doing so comes from the fact that he would not forfeit $11.5 million in unearned signing bonus money for 2021 if he opts out. Also, he presumably would still receive the payments on the $6.8 million roster bonus that he earned in March, and that is due to be paid out in weekly installments during the season.

That’s $18.3 million that he’ll keep by opting out. If he doesn’t opt out but holds out, he loses that $18.3 million — and would be fined roughly $2 million on top of it for skipping training camp.

The key, as Florio points out in his article, is that the voluntary opt-out is unconditional and will be accepted with “no questions asked as to motivation or qualification or possible ulterior motive.” We don’t know what may happen over the next week, but in the end, we agree with Jamaal Williams that we’d be okay with Rodgers sitting out a bit and living his life and doing what he needs to do with that $18.3 million he wouldn’t need to give back. You know, maybe take a trip or two. Or three. Or more.

Now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:

  • Looks like the league is trying to turn the scouting combine into a traveling spectacle similar to the rookie draft:

  • This is tremendous content. It is indeed a historic All-22 film.