It's been one week since the NFL and NFLPA came to an agreement on a plan to operate amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and we've seen a trend develop.
Of the players who have decided to opt out of the 2020 season, a large portion of them play in the trenches. No position has seen more notable players do so than defensive tackle.
Michael Pierce (Vikings), Star Lotulelei (Bills), Eddie Goldman (Bears), Eddie Vanderdoes (Texans), John Atkins (Lions), Kyle Peko (Broncos) and Josh Tupou (Bengals) have all chosen the opt-out route for 2020 for varying reasons, with the last of the group becoming the latest Friday, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported several veteran defensive tackles are receiving calls as a result of these opt-outs, including Mike Daniels, Timmy Jernigan, Damon "Snacks" Harrison and Domata Peko.
This continues to be a fluid situation -- in fact, in the process of writing this, another defensive tackle (Jacksonville's Al Woods) opted out -- which is very much unlike the usual end-of-July roster movement. Typically, teams reach camp with almost every position group filled out and ready to go, with only injuries significantly altering them and forcing personnel action. Occasionally, a veteran who becomes a surprise cut will sign around this time, like Daniels did in Detroit last summer.
Now, these veterans might find themselves as the subject of minor bidding wars among needy teams.
Pierce was Minnesota's biggest catch of free agency, but the Vikings will have to wait a year to see return on their investment. Goldman has been a key piece of Chicago's defensive front for much of the last five years, and Lotulelei was entering his third season in Buffalo after moving north from Carolina in 2018.
Each of these teams will now be tasked with finding viable replacements with one month left to prepare for the start of the regular season.
Some additional interesting wrinkles remain for these veterans who have drawn interest. Earlier this week, Pelissero reported Harrison has options, but with a newborn at home and other family concerns, he was still gathering information to make an educated decision on whether he'll play in 2020.
Peko's availability also produces an interesting contrast in a strange time, as his younger cousin, Kyle, has opted out of 2020 while the 35-year-old Peko is entertaining employment opportunities near the end of his NFL career.
Motivations for playing or sitting out depend largely on the financial and health statuses of individual players. Those circumstances will continue to affect the participation of players both unheralded and significant, and the league will be forced to react accordingly as we all navigate this unprecedented time.