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NFLPA seeks opt-out clauses for at-risk players, conditional stipends, source says
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NFLPA fighting for opt-out clauses before season starts (0:59)

Jeremy Fowler reports that the NFL Players Association is negotiating to have opt-out clauses for players with at-risk family members in regard to COVID-19. (0:59)

8:01 PM ET
  • Jeremy FowlerESPN Staff Writer

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    • ESPN staff writer
    • Previously a college football reporter for CBSSports.com
    • University of Florida graduate

The NFL and NFL Players Association continue to negotiate terms for a return to work, and players are requesting financial backing in case they decide to sit out the season.

Among the requests in the players’ recent proposal to the league, according to a source involved:

  • An opt-out clause for at-risk players to receive salary (but not bonuses) if they decide not to play.

  • An opt-out clause for players with at-risk families to earn an accrued season and benefits if they decide not to play.

  • An opt-out clause for players who leave the team after reporting (terms uncertain).

  • A $250,000 stipend guaranteed to all players if they show up to camp and everything is shut down because of COVID-19 concerns. That amount rises to $500,000 if the season starts, only to be shut down.

The definition of “at-risk” is part of the discussion, and procedures for applying for medical opt-outs are not finalized.

If a player is serving a suspension and the season is canceled, the games unserved will not carry into the next season.

The league’s June 7 memo listed the following as considerations for high-risk individuals:

  • African American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander

  • BMI ≥ 28

  • Sleep apnea

  • Hypertension

  • Altered immunity

  • Diabetes mellitus

  • Cardiac disease

According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, players also want no salary in escrow for 2020 and no reduction in the 2021 salary cap, despite projected revenue loss, which they would prefer to spread over multiple years. The league’s initial ask to place 35% of this year’s salaries in escrow is considered a nonstarter.

A source told Graziano that no further conversations between the NFL and NFLPA are scheduled for Wednesday after the sides talked each of the past two days.

Several issues remain unresolved. Players want testing every day and no preseason games, while the league wants testing less frequently (such as every other day) and two preseason games. Upon returning to camp, players want a lengthy acclimation period before beginning full practices to avoid injuries and to get comfortable in the new working environment.

Both sides must decide whether trimming the 90-man training camp rosters to avoid unnecessary contact is the right thing. On the equipment front, the league has worked with Oakley on a protective face shield, but players are lukewarm on that.

Both sides want camp and want to play, so the goal is to get there, survive the likely initial wave of positive tests and manage expectations from there.

“Get the 16 games on TV,” a source told ESPN. “That’s the main goal.”

If there are fans in the stands, the league standard for all 32 teams would be for fans to wear face masks. The league is hoping that teams can have fan days, with social distancing inside stadiums, for training camp. With camp fast approaching, many players believe that the NFL is far from getting there.

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