As part of the agreement between the NFL and the Players Association, every player had the ability to opt out of the 2020 season without question by 4 PM on Thursday, August 6. Once the agreement was reached on July 25, reports begin to come in of players choosing to sit out the 2020 season.
The first player was the Chiefs Laurent Duvernay-Tardif who chose to forgo the 2020 season and continue his job in the medical field. In the 13 days which followed, numerous players made their decision on opting out for 2020 across almost every team in the NFL.
On Tuesday afternoon, there were eight teams who had yet to have a player opt out. By midnight that night, the number was cut to four. And at the 4 PM deadline on Thursday, there were only three teams to have no players who reportedly of opted out for the 2020 season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those three teams.
Typically in the NFL, the actual transactions coming through the NFL office lag behind when reports come out. But at the deadline, no members of the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers had any reports of sitting out the upcoming season. The other two teams are the Los Angeles Chargers and the Atlanta Falcons.
Two former Steelers chose to forgo 2020 in offense of tackle Marcus Gilbert of the Arizona Cardinals and defensive tackle Al Woods of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In all, ESPN’s opt out tracker has a total of 63 (now 66) players from 29 teams who have opted out.
Now that the deadline has passed, the criteria for opting out for 2020 is much more strict. Players either have to be deemed to be in a high-risk category, or have an immediate family member who is either at risk or or suffering complications from COVID-19. In other words, the opt out will be based more on necessity than personal preference.
Although the Steelers do have players who are considered to be in a high risk categories such as James Conner (cancer survivor) and Cameron Heyward (asthma), the players are moving forward with playing the 2020 season.
It appears the Steelers now know their training camp roster and the plans each have moving forward. Now it’s time to get down to business.