JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jaguars defensive lineman Al Woods became the team’s first player to opt out of playing this season due to COVID-19.
The NFL veteran Woods signed a one-year contract with the Jaguars in March and is entering his first season with the team. Woods has been in the league since 2010 and has largely been a role player. He started all 16 games for the Colts in 2017 at nose tackle. The Jaguars are the sixth NFL team that Woods has been on. He played with the Seahawks last year.
Woods is the 33rd player in the league to opt out of playing in 2020.
His signing was to bolster the Jaguars interior defensive line after the team posted one of the worst run defenses in the league last year.
“While I was excited to join the Jaguars, I have made the tough decision, given the current status of COVID-19, to opt out for the 2020 season,” Woods said in a release. “The health and safety of my family has always been the most important thing in my life. I love the game of football and will be rooting hard for my teammates this season, and I look forward to re-joining the Jaguars in 2021.”
Coach Doug Marrone said that he doesn’t fault players for opting out this season due to COVID-19.
“As I mentioned to our media yesterday, we all understand the risk associated with COVID-19, and we will fully support any of our players and coaches that choose to opt out this season,” he said. “It is important for every individual to feel comfortable and to believe that they’re doing what’s right for themselves and their family. As an organization, we respect Al’s decision and are fully understanding.”
Players who voluntarily opt out of the season are eligible for a $150,000 stipend which the NFL says is viewed as a salary advance against their frozen contract. Players who are higher risk (due to medical conditions) and opt out will receive $350,000, which is not a salary advance, as well as an accrued season toward free agency and all benefits.
Three players who have opted out, Washington’s Caleb Brantley, New England’s Marcus Cannon and Minnesota’s Michael Pierce, are all high-risk opt outs. Fifteen others are voluntary opt outs and the remaining 15 have undesignated statuses at this point.