New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty is not a fan of the NFL changing the opt-out deadline for players to decide they do not want to take the field in 2020 during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As NBC Sports Boston shared, McCourty said, "I think it's an absolute joke that the NFL is changing the opt-out period, mainly because they don't want to see guys continue to opt out."
He also called the league's actions "terrible" and "b.s."
The comments come after ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the following on Saturday: "Opt-out deadline for NFL players is now expected to be moved up to either Tuesday or Wednesday, per league sources, depending on talks this weekend. NFL is pushing to move up the deadline from one week after the new CBA side-letter is signed, and it now is expected even sooner."
Schefter provided an update Sunday, noting the opt-out deadline is "looking like Wednesday" as the two sides continue to negotiate.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported the league wants to move up the deadline date because teams are worried players who may not make the roster will choose to opt out to receive the six-figure stipend that accompanies such a decision and that some agents will threaten an opt-out from their clients to receive a new contract.
As Florio pointed out, such a move by agents is "not necessarily a sign of bad faith" since it is easy to make the argument players should be paid more for the additional risk they will assume by playing during a pandemic.
That it was McCourty who made these comments is notable considering how many Patriots have already opted out even before the announcement of the exact deadline.
Field Yates of ESPN reported tight end Matt LaCosse elected to opt out, making him the eighth Patriots player to do so. That number is more than any other team in the league and includes starting linebacker Dont'a Hightower, starting safety Patrick Chung, starting right tackle Marcus Cannon and key special teamer Brandon Bolden.
Fullback Danny Vitale, offensive lineman Najee Toran and wide receiver Marqise Lee could fit the bill as players on the roster bubble who chose to opt out.
This has the potential to be a transition year for New England as so many players opt out and Tom Brady is no longer under center, but it is clear from McCourty's comments that he believes his teammates deserve the timeline the league initially promised to decide whether they will play.