Part of the unfortunate circumstances in the year 2020 is the way the virus pandemic has hit every facet of life. The NFL is moving ahead with their season, but among the many safety protocols they instituted was the ability for players to opt-out of the 2020 season. The deadline for players to take advantage of that passed at 4 PM ET today, August 6th.
The Cowboys had three players opt-out. CB Maurice Canady, WR Stephen Guidry, and FB Jamize Olawale. Of those three, only Olawale was expected to play a somewhat significant role on the team. Canady might have been able to catch on with special teams play, but it was unlikely he was going to crack the top rotation of cornerbacks. Guidry was an UDFA who stood little chance of standing out this offseason and likely would have been relegated to the practice squad at best.
Olawlae, on the other hand, is a nominal starter on offense as the team’s main fullback. Even so, Olawale only participated in 10.53% of the team’s offensive snaps in 2019. His real value was on special teams, where he participated in 62.81% of the snaps, second only to C.J. Goodwin. That is the area where his absence will be felt, something new special teams coordinator John Fassel will have to replace.
As for the fullback position, unless the Cowboys go out and sign a veteran, they look to be relying on UDFA Sewo Olonilua and possibly some help form the tight ends. We covered how that could look here.
Overall, the Cowboys didn’t get hit too hard by the opt-outs. Some teams had star players or important role players opt out, and the New England Patriots were hit especially hard. You can find a full list of out-outs here.
Players can still opt out going forward, but only under special circumstances. If a player is diagnosed with a new health condition that puts him in the high-risk category, he can opt out. If a player has family that is hospitalized or dies from the virus, they can also elect to opt out. We’re all hoping none of that will occur.