With the 2020 season quickly approaching, many NFL players have opted-out due to concerns about COVID-19. No team has been harder than the New England Patriots, who lost several prominent defense stars for the year. For the Buffalo Bills, the possibility of Tre’Davious White sitting out the season represented a massive blow to the team’s Super Bowl dreams.
But on Thursday, the star cornerback confirmed what Bills fans have desperately waited to hear.
COVID-19 has led many NFL players to sit out the 2020 season
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our idea of normalcy. The 2020 NFL draft got conducted from Roger Goodell’s basement rather than in Las Vegas. Baseball and basketball just got underway. Even some professional athletes have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
Those concerns have played a significant role in many NFL players electing to sit out the 2020 season. Dont’a Hightower sent shockwaves through Patriot Nation by opting-out. Bill Belichick’s defense took another hit with veteran safety Pat Chung also putting his NFL career on hold.
Elsewhere around the league, the Chicago Bears won’t have starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman this year. The Denver Broncos watched starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James opt-out. Even the reigning Super Bowl champions suffered a loss with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif choosing to continue fighting COVID-19 on the medical front.
Tre’Davious White confirms what Bills fans needed to hear
Bills fans already got dealt two major blows with Star Lotulelei and E.J. Gaines opting-out of the 2020 NFL season. However, neither player comes close in terms of value to Tre’Davious White. Buffalo’s star cornerback drew criticism from fans by leaving the door open that he could also join Lotulelei and Gaines on the opt-out list.
Facing a 4 p.m. opt-out deadline, that put White in a precarious position. Should he potentially sacrifice his health and family’s safety just to play football? Or would he tune out angry Bills fans and sit out the season?
White put any speculation to rest on Thursday. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweeted that the 2019 first-team All-Pro will play this season. While 66 NFL players opted-out of the 2020 NFL season, Tre’Davious White officially confirmed that he will not be one of them.
White’s presence could help the Bills finally topple the Patriots
Bills fans call all breathe a collective sigh of relief in the wake of the Tre’Davious White news. Buffalo’s top defensive player (and perhaps the best overall player on the team) rivals New England’s Stephon Gilmore as the top corner in the NFL. While Gilmore earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2019, White actually earned one vote himself.
Since entering the league as the 27th overall pick in 2017, the 5-foot-11, 192-pounder has quickly earned a reputation as a shutdown corner. White has racked up 12 interceptions and a whopping 43 passes defended in 47 career starts. Another big season should lead to a massive contract extension for the former LSU standout.
With White officially in the fold, the Bills may just have a shot at toppling the Patriots from their AFC East throne. Buffalo boasts a top-notch defense that could get a big boost from second-round rookie A.J. Epenesa. Throw in second-year defensive tackle Ed Oliver and you have the makings of a potentially elite unit.
Given the state of transition in New England, the Bills can ride their dominant defense to an AFC East title. Of course, that will only happen if Josh Allen takes an appreciable step forward. But for now, Bills fans should rejoice that Tre’Davious White will play this season. Now let’s see if Buffalo can take advantage of a wide-open division in 2020.