From Bill Belichick getting connected to another conspiracy theory to players training with face shields, the COVID-19 pandemic has had drastic effects on the NFL. Many players elected to opt-out of playing the 2020 NFL season entirely. That has left NFL teams in need of suitable replacements. Luckily for those franchises searching for talent, the 2020 NFL season just got a big boost from the CFL.
COVID-19 has had drastic effects on professional football
Not even the NFL could escape the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It started with the 2020 NFL draft. Roger Goodell conducted the annual affair from his basement rather than the grand stage of Las Vegas. Players resorted to creative training methods to stay in shape since social distancing rules prevented them from going to team facilities.
Some players even elected to sit out the 2020 NFL season. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of the Kansas City Chiefs won’t protect Patrick Mahomes this season. Instead, the veteran guard will keep fighting COVID-19 on the medical front.
The New England Patriots lost a league-high eight players to opt-outs. Longtime defensive stalwarts Dont’a Hightower and Pat Chung won’t suit up on Sundays this season. Hightower’s absence will force Bill Belichick to find a new defensive play-caller.
With teams in the midst of training camp, coaches and general managers finally can evaluate rosters that have been ravaged by opt-outs and injuries. As we inch closer to the beginning of the 2020 NFL season, the CFL just gave a big boost to teams in need of a talent upgrade.
The 2020 NFL season gets a big boost from the CFL
Unlike the NFL, the CFL will not play football this year. That obviously hurts the players who depend on those paychecks to provide for their families. However, hope still exists for their chances of making a living from playing football in 2020. Tom Pelissero reported that the CFL Players Association reached a deal with the CFL to allow any player to opt-out of his contract beginning on Monday, August 24.
NFL players who opt out who fall under the high-risk category will receive a $350,000 stipend. All others will receive a $150,000 salary advance. However, CFL players who opt-out will be released outright, though veterans will receive a $6,600 stipend.
By allowing players to opt-out of their contracts, the CFL just gave a big boost to the 2020 NFL season. After all, the pro football league north of the border offers plenty of players who could make the leap to the NFL.
Which CFL players could NFL teams pursue?
With the NFL talent pool receiving a huge gift from the CFL allowing its players to opt-out and become available, the 2020 NFL season could feature many more ex-CFL players than ever before. So which players could find themselves on an NFL roster this year?
On offense, Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2019. The 28-year-old actually succeeded Colin Kaepernick as the starting quarterback at the University of Nevada. Fajardo did get a look from the then-Oakland Raiders after going undrafted in 2015. He has garnered interest from NFL teams, but so far he has said he will not opt-out of his CFL contract.
Still, the NFL values the quarterback position so highly that it would not be surprising to see Fajardo change his mind. After all, if the right team comes in with a compelling offer, he could be swayed to take his talents to the NFL.
Elsewhere, Ottawa Redbacks linebacker Avery Williams could opt-out in order to score a spot on an NFL roster. The 25-year-old dominated in 2019 and earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the Redbacks. Williams spent the summer of 2017 with the Houston Texans before getting waived just before the season started.
Ultimately, we will have to see how many CFL players opt-out of their contracts to give themselves an opportunity to find an NFL home. The 2020 NFL season will certainly look quite different in a number of ways. Expect a bit of a Canadian flare this year thanks to the recent agreement between the CFL and the players association.