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With the Dallas Cowboys reporting to training camp in the coming days, many players are having a difficult personal debate on whether to play the season or sit out due to concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic. The New England Patriots have seen an exodus of players voluntarily skipping the 2020 season. The Cowboys have now officially suffered their first casualty with the announcement that veteran cornerback Maurice Canady has opted out of the 2020 NFL season

Maurice Canady’s early NFL career riddled by injuries 

After being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft, Maurice Canady impressed enough in training camp and made the squad. Unfortunately, he suffered a hamstring injury early in the season, and the Ravens placed him on injured reserve for the rest of the year. It was a precursor of things to come.

The next two seasons, Canady found himself in a similar situation, suffering an injury early and spending months on IR. Fortunately, he was able to return to the lineup in November on both occasions. In 2017, he played in eight games, and started once. He finished with 27 tackles and one fumble recovery. The 2018 season Canady played mostly on special teams. 

In 2019, Canady’s first year to make it through training camp without an injury, he started the season well with the Ravens. During the first five games, he recorded 21 tackles, had one forced fumble, and added an interception off Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield. 

The Ravens then made a surprise move in early November and waived him. The New York Jets claimed him off waivers the next day. Maurice Canady started in two of his eight games with the Jets and finished with 25 tackles and a pair of pass deflections. 

Canady joins Dallas in offseason

The Dallas Cowboys signed Maurice Canady in the offseason to a one-year deal and a base salary of $950,000. Those numbers alone make Canady a steal for a veteran player. 

The Cowboys expected the 6-foot-1, 193-pounder to provide valuable depth at outside cornerback for a defense and secondary in need of help. In the offseason, the Cowboys lost two key players in the defensive backfield with the departure of Byron Jones, who started 73 games, and Jeff Heath, who started 54 games at safety. 

In addition to his work in the Dallas Cowboys secondary, the team expected Canady to be a major contributor on special teams, a role he filled in both New York and Baltimore.   

Maurice Canady opts to not play in 2020

The NFL, like other sports leagues, is doing its best to plan for any and all situations that could occur in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. One part of that plan allows players to opt-out of playing in the 2020 NFL season while also receiving some financial compensation. 

Maurice Canady is the first Dallas Cowboys player to pursue that option.

According to ESPN, the NFL will offer $350,000 and an accrued league season if a player opts not to play this season and is deemed a high risk of contracting COVID-19. Those not considered high risk can also opt out and receive $150,000.

Canady’s situation falls in the latter and he will remain under contract for the 2021 season. Canady confirmed the report on Twitter. 

“Family first money second #staysafe,” the cornerback wrote. 

Maurice Canady, like the NFL, and everyone else in the world is trying to navigate the uncharted waters of a worldwide pandemic the best he can. What will be interesting to see is if Canady is the exception in Dallas, or just the first of many dominoes to fall.