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Will there be an NFL season in 2020? And if so, how many players might choose to opt-out, citing safety concerns among the COVID-19 pandemic?

While no decision appears to have been made, Bucs starting left tackle Donovan Smith is contemplating whether suiting up this season is in his best interest according to an Instagram post on Friday. 

Bucs LT Donovan Smith

Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“To whom it may concern,

“With the start of the 2020 NFL season fast approaching, many thoughts and questions roam my mind as I’m sure it does for many of my fellow ‘coworkers’ across the league. The unfortunate events of the COVID-19 pandemic have put a halt to a lot of things. Football is not one. To continue discussing the many UNKNOWNS do not give me the comfort. Risking my health as well as my family’s health does not seem like a risk worth taking.

“With my first child due in 3 weeks, I can’t help but think about how will I be able to go to work and take proper precautions around 80+ people everyday to then go home to be with my newborn daughter. How can a sport that requires physical contact on every snap and transferral of all types of bodily fluid EVERY SINGLE PLAY practice safe social distancing? How can I make sure that I don’t bring COVID-19 back to my household?

“Yes, we can get tested everyday, but if it takes 24 hours to get my results, how can I know each day that I am not spreading this virus or contracting it? The reoccurring issue here is how? There are too many ‘hows’ that have yet to be answered to ease player concerns and ensure the safety of not only myself, but also my family. I just can’t imagine how the game will be the same during these unprecedented times. Now to hear that 35% of my paycheck may be withheld while we are out sacrificing our health and wellness for the joy and entertainment of everyone else who will be safe at home in front of their TVs? Something isn’t right here. That should at LEAST warrant a pay raise due to the risk, not a cut. I am not a lab rat or guinea pig to test theories on. I am a man, a son, brother, soon to be father, and I deserve to be safe at work.”

Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs

Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs – Photo by: Getty Images

If Smith does decide to sit, the Bucs would have a gaping hole at one of the most important positions on the team. Tampa Bay did re-sign offensive tackle Josh Wells this offseason, and also drafted rookie Tristan Wirfs with their first pick in this spring’s NFL Draft. But the plan has been to start Wirfs on the right side, replacing Demar Dotson who was allowed to walk after 120 seasons in Tampa Bay, and have Wells as the swing tackle on game days.

Another big question is, if a player decides to sit, will his salary still count against the cap? A league source I spoke with on Friday said that answer is still “up in the air.”

Smith is set to earn $14.5 million in 2020.

Major League Baseball has already seen some players decide to skip the 2020 MLB season, including former Rays star David Price. The NFL will undoubtably also see more players question the safety of playing this year, and likely see some decide to opt-out entirely.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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chefboho
1 year ago

I get his concern, but a pay raise? He’s barely worth the $14 million he’s already getting. I’m an executive chef and put my ass on the line everyday to cook for ignorant customers who complain about everything in sight. So should I hold out for a pay raise too? If you don’t want to play, then don’t. I understand his concern with a little one on the way, but don’t expect the Bucs to just hand you a new contract if you sit o the whole year

Dman
Reply to  chefboho
1 year ago

Completely agree. With a new born in the house Smith has a legitimate concern about the safety of bringing the virus into his home. Other players will have similar circumstances and at risk family and may choose to sit out. They have the LUXURY of deciding to work or sit out, 99% of the workforce does not. And as businesses suffer 20% to 50% decreases in sales, people lose jobs, get to work fewer hours or accept pay cuts just to stay employed. Every person, pro athlete or not has to make that decision. Other than medical staff walking into… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  Dman
1 year ago

You’re not getting it. Smith is reacting just like everyone else in America who has been affected by COVID one way or another. If one is very fortunate, they didn’t get laid off .. or forced to quit to save their health if their employer demanded they return to work without proper protections. But tens of millions of Americans have been impacted. Everyone has to make a choice, if they even have a choice (a great many have no choice – their jobs were simply axed). He doesn’t want to be forced to take a humongous pay cut – 35%… Read more »

chefboho
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

You’re the one not getting it. He specifically says if they play the. He should get paid more. I love how you constantly claim to know more than anyone on here. So he gets a 35% pay cut. So what. That’s millions more than any of us will ever see and I guarantee my profession has been effected more than his. 53% of restaurants that closed for COVID never reopened. That’s my profession. But yeah, let’s feel sorry for Donovan Smith. You always prove how clueless you really are Naples

Dave
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

If he has an infant, it’s the right call for himself. Nobody is arguing that. But asking for a raise for choosing not to play is just not realistic

Last edited 1 year ago by Dave
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

I get most of your viewpoint here, but I can’t take the assertion that football is the most Covid dangerous job on the planet too seriously if these guys and basically all others on fields are going to be tested as frequently and as rigorously as they’re reportedly going to be tested. That idea doesn’t make any sense, IMO.

IDGABuc
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

As far as the testing goes, unless things have changed a lot recently, it does make sense it’s still one of the most dangerous as you can be Covid positive, asymptomatic and still spread the disease while the tests come back negative for up to 3-5 days. Then there’s the fact that none of these tests have gone through the typical FDA approved protocols testing for accuracy and some estimates have the false negative rate at about 20-30%. I pulled the following from one article talking about this.. FDA cautions that “[n]egative results must be considered in the context of… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  chefboho
1 year ago

Many essential workers did get a temporary pay raise if they had to work during the shut down. Grocery clerks, nurses, gas station attendants, etc. all earned more due to risk. At the end of the day, he may not feel the risk is worth the reward, especially if the owners plan on reducing pay.

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Nobody i know in MA has gotten a pay raise for working during covid. Not a one. So it definitely depends on which state you work in, and what field you work in

bucfanskiz
1 year ago

May sound insensitive to some but, no play equals no pay. I get his concerns and I do think they are valid. If any of the regular working class decided we can’t risk going to an office we would do so without pay or benefits.

Naplesfan
Reply to  bucfanskiz
1 year ago

Dude – he is not saying pay me for not playing. He is saying “don’t cut my pay while putting me at vastly more risk than I bargained for when I signed a contract, and the NFLPA siged a contract with the league a decad ago. Indeed, you should increase my pay”.

There, corrected your misunderstanding of what Donavan Smith actually said.

bucfanskiz
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

You need to understand what an escrow account is before you claim they are taking a pay cut. It starts with I’m not comfortable playing then comes the we should still be paid and keep our benefits. Everyday Americans could only hope for that type of “employment”. If he’s concerned and wants to sit do so without pay…period.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  bucfanskiz
1 year ago

Meh, you can’t ASSUME he’s going to say something he hasn’t said yet. That’s just unfair and, frankly, ridiculous. It’s only reasonable to judge and react to things he’s actually said and done. If he or any player ultimately wants to get paid after electing not to play, then let’s address that then.

Big Mike
1 year ago

Has he really been here 120 seasons? It only seems like 50 seasons to me. Wow, how time flies.

cgmaster27
1 year ago

I get his feelings with a newborn on the way, but you lost me the minute you brought a raise into it. Get your fat ass out there and play if you want paid. You dont deserve a raise for going to work. The rest of us didnt get one for simply returning to work.

Big Mike
Reply to  cgmaster27
1 year ago

A lot of folks took *pay cuts* to go back to work.

Naplesfan
Reply to  cgmaster27
1 year ago

Big bad tough guy as you always play here, just like your Tweeto idol who also plays a tough guy on TV and then wimps out every freaking actual confrontation.

So easy peasy for you to pound your tiny little chest and pretend to be tough with someone else’s health, the health of their family, and co-workers, and their economic status also being chewed up.

You and Tweeto – peas in a pod, or should I say pussies in a pod.

chefboho
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

Says the guy name calling in response to someone else’s post. You’re so hypocritical it’s laughable. It’s why no one takes you seriously on here.

Dave
Reply to  chefboho
1 year ago

Yyyyup

fredster
1 year ago

This is complete non sense. First, It is very rare for Children or infants to become sick with Covid at all. Second your newborn and small children are more likely to have serious complications With flu. Are you going to sit out every year Now with flu? No your not. Beyond stupid what’s been going on with with Covid.
I’ve said all along something isn’t right with him. Yes he’s durable, but the bad mental lapses and bad plays, penalties at worst times he has are just so dumb makes you questions his prep and or dedication.

Naplesfan
Reply to  fredster
1 year ago

Firstly, children ARE getting sick from COVID, and infants have died from COVID. Lots of young people are getting COVID now – the largest single age group for COVID in Florida as of today are 21-29 year olds. And large numbers of young people, including those in their 20s and 30s, as nearly all NFL players are today, are getting sick enough to require hospitalization. The only nonsense is emanating like shit stink from COVID deniers like you .. you know, the guys who cheered when Tweeto said that COVID was a media hoax, that maybe 15 guys in America… Read more »

IDGABuc
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

Ha! You just had a negative 24 thumb down rating for dropping some real life info on these fools! Don’t worry, through some glitch it allowed me to click it all the way back up to -10. What?? You think I should’ve gone higher and at least skewed the results back to equal? “Hell naw man! This here’s ‘Merica and I ain’t no Russian and this ain’t no ‘lection!” (Plus I have to assume that someone else had Thumb Down bombed you in the first place! Otherwise I’d have to admit that most people are too stupid for words..)

owlykat
1 year ago

Tell D. Smith to go home and stay there and he forfeits $14 million and will not be renewed next year. Then train Wirfs to to play LT and start Haeeg at RT. Wirfs won’t have any trouble stopping speed rushers and all other sackers and will block great on runs and not cause penalties and will be a great benefit to Brady. We should have never given D. Smith such an undeserved rich contract in the first place!

toofamiliar17
Reply to  owlykat
1 year ago

Can’t have it both ways. If he doesn’t get paid, then the year doesn’t count for his contract, and he comes into 2021 with the second year of his extension (100% of which is fully guaranteed) about to play out. I’m with you that he doesn’t get paid if he doesn’t play, but he’s not going to both not get paid AND then get cut without us eating and still having to pay his entire salary, as per his contract. Doesn’t work that way. Can’t.

Dude
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

I’m not sure about if he were to sit out that his contract would pickup when he returns as if it was paused. If his contract is 100% guaranteed, then he will probably get his pay. But if he breaks his contract by sitting out then he may lose a year. It would really depend on the fine print. It’s even possible that the Bucs could take him to court for breach of contract and not pay him anything if he sets out. Without knowing any of the details it’s hard to really say how it will work out for… Read more »

BucRy
1 year ago

“ That should at LEAST warrant a pay raise due to the risk, not a cut. I am not a lab rat or guinea pig to test theories on. I am a man, a son, brother, soon to be father, and I deserve to be safe at work.”

Lost me on this part..everyone else is also taking a risk going to work and going home to their families everyday WITHOUT getting tested everyday and a minimal pay raise for it if any at all..so are we the guinea pigs Donovan? Don’t we all deserve to be safe?

toofamiliar17
Reply to  BucRy
1 year ago

Yea, the pay raise bit was unquestionably stupid, no doubt. That’s the only part of this that feels painfully tone deaf and borderline disrespectfully unaware to me. Tons of Americans lost their entire livelihoods to Covid (including me, temporarily). Even more had their pay cut with partial furloughs or (hopefully) temporary pay reductions. Literally nobody has been given a raise based on increased personal risk in their jobs. And almost nobody is earning even a few percent of his scheduled salary.

BucRy
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

I hope your situation got better!

Last edited 1 year ago by BucRy
Naplesfan
1 year ago

I can see the Trumplican morons are out in force again in each and every one of these COVID-denying comment threads. What idiots. It’s them and their political idol Trump who made America the worst performing nation in the world on COVID through their active politically-inspired denial of COVID. Every other nation but America and Brazil (led by their own version of corrupted Tweeto) has seen their COVID numbers plummet the last two months, while under Tweeto, our numbers in America are skyrocketing. Florida is Ground Zero for COVID for the entire planet this month – led again by yet… Read more »

BucRy
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

Can’t argue with Trumpers, they aren’t the brightest.

Dude
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

Hmm… So COVID is on the rise, but yet the death rate is on the decline, and there’s been no medicine, or cure found yet? Hmm… Something’s not adding up here Robin?

BucRy
Reply to  Dude
1 year ago

You do know that it typically takes a few years for a vaccines to come out right?

Dude
Reply to  BucRy
1 year ago

Exactly!

Knightrider79
Reply to  BucRy
1 year ago

So do we just stay inside quivering in fear of big bad Covid? Or do we just go on with our lives? The numbers have gone up because the numbers can not go down. They can’t decrease the numbers. However the deaths going down means it hasn’t been as bad as they thought. Remember, in history they’ve never quarantined the healthy

twspin
1 year ago

Some Americans are..pretty arrogant. Laughing and not wearing mask. Defying King Covaid.But slowly and surely, he has made them understand what he is all about. And I think he is going to exact his revenge on professional sports also. Smith is spot on to have 2nd thoughts about playing. I would too. As the husband of a nurse who has seem King Covaid in action, I can tell you all, he is no joke. I suspect the season will start and end abruptly before the final game can be played. You see, King Covaid mutates as it incubates inside of… Read more »

Knightrider79
Reply to  twspin
1 year ago

Yeah “king Covid” is bad alright. So bad they’ve had to fudge the numbers to make the death totals higher than what they actually are. Yup he’s bad alright

IDGABuc
Reply to  twspin
1 year ago

Man the Liberals and Mainstream media in general are the ones that first started to use Covid as a political platform and as a weapon against the President! He’s just the one that handled it like an idiot and responded with “They’re wrong!” (If he even said that. Idk.) as he has done his entire Presidency! And it had worked GREAT for him until this as they were PROVEN wrong time and time again! At this point I honestly could give a **** about the President. We need to be more concerned with the fact that the American political system… Read more »

nybuccguy
1 year ago

Donovan Smith is a lazy slug of a player. I’d respect his decision if I really thought it was about Covid. Our team will be better off when we move on from this scrub.

drdneast
Reply to  nybuccguy
1 year ago

nybuccguy, spoken like a true ignorant,know it all New Yorker. You think he wants to sit out the year and not get paid. His contract may be guaranteed but I’m sure that’s just if he gets injured, not if he decides to take a leave of absence. If the moron in the WH would have followed the advice and guidelines set up by his own CDC, this country and state wouldn’t still be suffering from this pandemic. You have to look no further than New York to see that under the leadership of a stable governor who showed real leadership… Read more »

Dave
Reply to  drdneast
1 year ago

No denying Trump is an idiot, and should have made 1 covid guideline for the entire US. But regardless, it was left up to each state to be smart and open back up, only when there was a 14 day decline in cases. And most of the states, Florida included, didn’t do that. It was also up to each state, to make their own covid guidelines. Such as mandatory masks, social distancing, etc..which again, most states couldn’t be bothered with. The state officials who didn’t take it seriously, are absolutely not without blame. In MA where I am, Charlie Baker… Read more »

Dude
Reply to  drdneast
1 year ago

You mean the “stable governor” who instead of buying more ventilators back in 2015 like every other state did he squandered billions of NY’s resources on a ridiculous solar panel factory that never made it? That “stable governor?”

Thank the Good Lord for Trump who stepped in and helped this troubled state out with what they needed when the that “stable governor” failed them! You are blinded by hate my fellow Bucs fan.

BigSombrero
Reply to  nybuccguy
1 year ago

Scrub? If the Bucs had a better option, they would have taken it.

Better or worse, the window for this team is two years before Arians, Brady, Gronk, David, JPP, Suh, Smith and Barrett are likely gone. Not having the starting Left Tackle hurts this teams chances on their ALL IN short term gamble.

CrackerBall
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

“If the Bucs had a better option, they would have taken it”

Ha Ha… what team have you been watching since 1976?

Last edited 1 year ago by CrackerBall
seat26
1 year ago

The greatest contact sport there is besides face to face wrestling, but with 22 guys all at the same time. This is going to be impossible with Florida adding 10K new cases per day. The NFL knows this and they are trying to figure out a way to manage this so that an Industry worth 9 billion dollars doesn’t collapse. I think at best we are looking at a shortened season.

Buc-Up
1 year ago

The NFL should do a “bubble format’ like the NBA is planning, but a more extreme version. Isolate the players, coaches, team staffs, & NFL staffs. Isolate them from their families unless it’s in a controlled environment. If our military can be deployed for 6mo to 1yr, then these highly paid athletes can be away from their families for 5-6mo.

toofamiliar17
1 year ago

I totally understand Smith’s concern and his mindset with his young family. It is absolutely his right to sit out a year. Selfishly, as a Bucs fan, I think there’s a good chance we’d be considerably better off if he did. Jason Peters is still sitting out there as a free agent, and he was one of the best OTs in football last season, as he has been for his entire career. He’d also cost a good deal less than $14.5M for the year. So if Smith sits, we should be able to easily secure a superior player for considerably… Read more »

BigSombrero
1 year ago

Smith is an above average starting left tackle. The Bucs do not have a better option to replace him if he sits for safety instead of playing for less. Criticize him if you’d like, but what if Marpet also decides to sit? Or Jensen? Or JPP? Who could blame any player if they sit? If the season is cancelled tomorrow, the Chiefs and their fans will be disappointed they can’t defend their title in 2020. The disappointment is minor since their team is built to compete for a decade with Mahomes, Hill, CEH, etc. They can pick it back up… Read more »

CrackerBall
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Smith is an above average starting left tackle

Says who? Being ranked 32nd makes at least half of the LTs, and almost half of the RTs better than him (since PFF makes no positional distinction between LT and RT)

Probably more like 25 LTs and 6 RTs

seat26
1 year ago

Here is my proposal. Postpone the Season until Nov 1st. Play a shortened season of 8 games with one month of playoffs in January. Putting the fans or the players at risk is foolishness. There might still be a chance of a season, but not without expert planning and logistics. I hope that the NFL will consider something like this.

plopes808
1 year ago

Well, Mr Smith better be careful what he asks for. Many are already questioning how much he’s making right now. Someone may likely step in and outplay him.

CrackerBall
Reply to  plopes808
1 year ago

Even if they played AS WELL as him, but cost much less, that is a huge win.

Knightrider79
1 year ago

So he wants a pay raise to play a game? I haven’t gotten a pay raise to deliver essential goods to customers. I’ve put my life as well as the lives of my families in jeopardy everyday and I haven’t complained. Just play the game. The virus isn’t and hasn’t been as bad as they’ve let on. You’ll be ok to leave your million dollar mansion to play a game while I sleep in my truck at truck stops. Big damn baby

MWD
MWD
1 year ago

I can think of 14.5 million reasons to play. I get it, I understand that he has concern for his family- but so does every swinging dick in America, a lot of which don’t have the luxury to say they are set to make 14.5 million this year. Suck it the hell up or GTFOO Tampa….

Last edited 1 year ago by MWD
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