As veterans across the NFL are reporting for training camp today, some around the league are choosing not to. Instead, those individuals are opting out of their contracts and sitting out of the 2020 season, citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Minnesota Vikings are the latest team, but not the first, to have a major contributor choose not to play. According to multiple reports, their big-ticket free agent, (DT) Michael Pierce, has opted-out of his $8M salary. $3 million will be pushed from 2020 to 2021.
High-Risk Category – Asthma
Pierce, who played for Baltimore in 2019, was signed in the offseason to fill a gaping hole on the defensive line after Linval Joseph left in free agency. The 27-year-old has dealt with asthma since childhood and uses an inhaler daily.
He told the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson, that he has experienced issues with his respiratory system and with breathing, making this a “high risk” opt out and not a “voluntary” one.
As stated earlier, the Vikings gain an additional $3M in cap this year, and his contract will toll to 2021. Pierce also will reportedly still receive a $350,000 stipend from the league as he is a high-risk employee.
#Vikings NT Michael Pierce: “I have really bad asthma among other respiratory issues. So it’s not one of those voluntary opt outs. It’s a high-risk opt out.''— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) July 28, 2020
#Vikings NT Michael Pierce on opt out: “If I was a normal human being with a normal functioning respiratory system, I’d be out there without a thought. It’s an unfortunate situation but it’s something I’ve been battling and I've got to deal with the rest of my life.''— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) July 28, 2020
Since I’m seeing some very misinformed NFL reporters. Here you go, from NFLPA Memo:— Chris Nathanson (@ChrisN_SS) July 28, 2020
Voluntary opt-out: contract tolled, $150,000 salary advance to be paid back following season.
High Risk opt-out: contract tolled, $350,000 stipend. pic.twitter.com/v9gF9N9ouY
Pierce plans to return to the Vikings for the 2021 season. Pierce was supposed to be an anchor for the defensive line this year, but Vikings fans will have to wait a year as he is clearly making the right decision for himself and his own well-being.
Ameer Eldiomatti | Minnesota Sports Fan