NFL players aren't the only ones who are choosing to opt out of the 2020 football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. College players are too, including top prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft.
First, it was Caleb Farley, the talented Virginia Tech cornerback who's projected to be a first-round pick. Now, it's Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who has a chance to be the first pass-catcher selected in next April's draft.
Bateman finished the 2019 season with 60 catches for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns and was slated to be QB Tanner Morgan's top target in a year that he would've challenged LSU's Ja'marr Chase to be the most coveted wide receiver in the country.
Bateman's decision to opt out of the season shouldn't hurt his draft stock all that much. He doesn't have a significant injury history and with more time to train for the NFL Combine and his pro day (assuming he has one), he should test exceptionally well at an estimated 6'2 and 210 pounds.
The NFL could be one step closer to returning, soon. According to Ian Rapoport, the NFL and NFLPA are close to signing their updated collective bargaining agreement for playing in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agreement between the NFL and NFLPA revising the CBA amid the COVID-19 pandemic is very close to being finalized and signed, source said. It may not be today, but should be soon. The sides spoke today to hammer out the final few items.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 3, 2020
The two sides agreed to a new CBA back in March but came back to the table to revise after the global pandemic hit the United States hard.
This news comes after the NFLPA player representatives voted 29-3 in favor of the changes on Friday.
The new deal allows for 16-man practice squads, no preseason games for 2020, and high-risk and voluntary opt-outs for players. According to Tom Pelissero, high-risk players who opt out will receive a $350,000 stipend. Voluntary opt-outs for non-high-risk players will receive a $150,000 salary advance. Contracts will toll in each case, meaning it will be treated as a regular year of service time.
According to Ian Rapoport, training camp will now include a 20-day ramp-up period with no more than 14 padded practices.
In addition, Rapoport reports that rosters will need to be trimmed down to 80 players by Aug. 16, and no more than 80 people will be allowed in team buildings at a time.
"The NFL clubs and the NFL Players Association approved an agreement that broadly resolves all outstanding issues relating to the opening of training camps and start of the 2020 season," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Training camps will begin as scheduled.
"We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel. These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the NFLPA and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the CDC, and many state and local public health officials.
“The season will undoubtedly present new and additional challenges, but we are committed to playing a safe and complete 2020 season, culminating with the Super Bowl."