KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Running back Damien Williams is now the second Chiefs player to opt out of the 2020 NFL season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As an organization, we certainly understand and respect Damien’s choice, knowing it was made in the best interest of his family,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said Wednesday.” He means a lot to our football team as a player and a person, and we’re going to miss having him around this season.”
The NFL and and players association reached a deal Friday afternoon addressing many health and financial issues to allow training camps to begin. It also gives players an opportunity to opt out of the upcoming season because of the coronavirus.
Players who decide they want to opt out have until Aug. 3 to do so, and they will receive a stipend from the owners, the Associated Press reports. The amount of the stipend will be $350,000 for medical opt outs and $150,000 for voluntary opt outs.
The Chiefs signed Williams in 2018, and signed him to a 2-year, $8.1 million contract extension later that year. His contract will toll to the 2021 season.
Williams had a big impact in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win. He recorded a receiving and rushing touchdown, giving the team the lead and securing the team’s 31-20 win.
The Chiefs running back group still includes Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson and Deandre Washington.
Last week, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first NFL player to announce he’ll sit out for the season.
The Canadian was also the first active NFL player to hold a medical degree. During the offseason, after winning a Super Bowl with the Chiefs, he’s been working at a longterm care facility in Quebec.
LDT released a statement on Twitter, saying in part:
“Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals in our healthcare system. I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”
Former Chiefs wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas, who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens, has also opted out of the season.
The Chiefs play in the season opener Sept. 10, and veterans have been arriving this week at the team’s training facilities for COVID-19 testing.