Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opts out of 2020 NFL Season

The NFL has it’s first player opt-out: Chiefs RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

  • 2020 NFL Season
  • Chiefs
  • COVID-19
  • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
  • NFL
  • Opt-Out
By Garrett Williams July 25, 2020 0 Comment
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Chiefs RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Has Opted Out of the 2020 Season

On Friday, stunning news broke as Super Bowl Champion and Kansas City Chiefs right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has decided to opt-out of the 2020 season and continue working as an orderly at a long-term care facility in Quebec, Canada.

Duvernay-Tardif, who graduated from McGill University with a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery (M.D., Ch. M.) , released a statement on why he decided to opt-out and instead help care for patients on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news was surprising to say the least, but one that makes sense. Duvernay-Tardif has been working in hospitals every off-season since entering the league in 2014 in order to focus on his medical degree. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada, the Super Bowl Champion decided to return to his hometown and work at a long-term care facility to assist in any way that he could.

What does this mean for the NFL and the Chiefs?

Duvernay-Tardif said in his statement that he believes the Chiefs medical staff has put together a strong plan along with the NFL and NFLPA to minimize the health risks associated with COVID-19, but would rather take risks caring for patients rather than playing football. Duvernay-Tardif is in a unique situation, being the only player in the NFL with a doctorate degree and having worked in a long-term care facility most of the off-season. This shouldn’t have much of an influence on the rest of the NFL’s decisions on whether to opt-out or not, but there will undoubtedly be players who still choose to opt-out for other reasons.

As for the Chiefs, this decision will have a few different impacts. Contract wise, the NFL stated that any players who opt-out of the 2020 season would have their contracts toll and receive the $150k stipend. Duvernay-Tardif was scheduled to make $2.75 million this season in base salary, which will now be paid out in 2021 (minus the $150k) assuming he returns to play in 2021. It’s still unclear how this will affect the Chiefs salary cap in 2020, but logically it seems like it would cause his cap number to drop, freeing up some cap space.

Chiefs have plenty of options at guard as LDT continues the fight against COVID-19

And last and certaintly the least given the incredible sacrifice Duvernay-Tardif is making, the gap this leaves on the Chiefs offensive line. Duvernay-Tardif has been a good player for the Chiefs since being drafted in the 6th round in the 2014 NFL draft. His departure certainly leaves a hole on the offensive line, but luckily for Chiefs fans there are a plethora of players who could potentially compete for his right guard spot. The Chiefs have Andrew Wylie, Martinas Rankin, Lucas Niang, Mike Remmers, Nick Allegretti, and newly signed Kelechi Osemele who can viably compete for positions.

After Duvernay-Tardif’s departure, the Chiefs turned around and signed Osemele to a 1-year deal worth $2M max. Osemele has started 96 games over his 8 year career, earning 2 Pro Bowl nods and a First Team All-Pro selection in 2016. In 2019, he started only 3 games for the Jets before getting injured and eventually being released over an injury dispute. The former 2nd-round pick is now healthy and will look to compete for the starting role early on.

Out of the 6 main options, Wylie and Osemele seem to have the best odds of starting. Wylie has started 21 games over the past two years for the Chiefs and was their Mack Lee Hill award winner in 2018. Other viable options include Rankin, who started 5 games last year after being acquired via trade before week 1, and Niang, the Chiefs 3rd round selection in 2020 who primarily played tackle at TCU but is athletic enough to kick over to guard for a year if need be.

Remmers was a veteran free agent signing this off-season who has started 78 games over his 8 year career who could also compete for a main role. Allegretti was a 7th round draft pick by the Chiefs in 2019, and while he didn’t get any starts, his limited reps and praise by the coaching staff early on in the season could earn him some more reps. Both players will realistically serve as depth pieces in 2020, but injuries or further opt-outs could thrust them in at any time.

Overall, the Chiefs will definitely feel the loss of Duvernay-Tardif both on the field and in the locker room, but should be able to suffice. As for Duvernay-Tardif, he is gearing up to continue one of the hardest battles of his life: caring for patients on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. My hat is off to LDT and I hope he stays safe and returns to the Chiefs in 2021!


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