Under the terms of an agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association, players considered to be voluntary opt-outs receive a $150,000 salary advance and have their contracts toll to 2021. Those deemed to be at a higher health risk can collect a $350,000 stipend.
A number of players across the league have already exercised one of the two options amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With respect to the opt-out deadline, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported the NFL was looking to have the date moved up. Some teams believed players on the roster bubble would opt out and collect the advance rather than remain on the team through training camp and potentially get cut.
"While players apparently would owe the money back to the teams if they fail to make the roster in 2021, no team wants to have to chase a former player around next year in an effort to retrieve $150,000 or $350,000," Florio wrote.
Others will argue players still don't have enough time to make such a big choice.
In general, it's unclear how the NFL will manage the pandemic when games resume, making the situation harder to parse.
The 2020 MLB season isn't even two weeks old, yet two teams—the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals—have already experienced outbreaks leading to multiple games being postponed.
NFL rosters are far bigger than those in MLB, and the league has yet to lay out a blanket ban on having fans inside stadiums during the season.
Thursday's deadline likely means the NFL's transaction wire will be busy over the next few days as players make their final decisions.