With the expiration of today’s 4 p.m. deadline, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of just three teams to have no players opt-out of the 2020 season, along with the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers.
Speaking with the media Thursday morning, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin expressed his confidence that none of his players would be choosing to sit this year out. Evidently, he was right.
Pittsburgh currently has three players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in running back Jaylen Samuels, wide receiver James Washington and cornerback Justin Layne. It is unknown whether they have actually tested positive for the virus, or are simply on the list as a precaution because of potential exposure.
66 players across the league have opted out of the 2020 season thus far, the majority of them offensive linemen. The New England Patriots have been hit hardest by opt-outs, losing eight players, including starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
The Cleveland Browns have had the most among AFC North teams at five, with four of the opt-outs coming from offensive linemen.
Players that opt-out because of medical concerns are entitled to a $350,000 stipend, while those that voluntarily choose to forego the 2020 season will receive a $150,000 salary advance, expected to be paid back next year.
While the Steelers did dodge a bullet by having no opt-outs, Tomlin did express doubts that the NFL season will be able to go off safely and without a hitch.
“I don’t know that I’m extremely confident,” he told the media Thursday. “I respect the challenges that the circumstances have presented to the other leagues, some of which we are witnessing. We’re all proceeding with caution and working extremely hard not to become part of that.”