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Opt-outs will be fact of life for Cowboys, NFL in 2020

Training camp opens this week for the Dallas Cowboys but they will be without a couple of players who have opted out amid concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
New York Jets cornerback Maurice Canady (37) before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Training camp is about to kick off all across the NFL as the league prepares for its upcoming season. It’s anyone’s guess whether the full year gets played, but the league has offered its players an opt-out if they feel the coronavirus is too much of a health risk to participate.

The Dallas Cowboys have already been affected by the virus, as star RB Ezekiel Elliott tested positive for COVID-19 in June. Fortunately for the team, Elliott has recovered and is gearing up for the 2020 season. If Elliott had opted out, he would have been the most high profile player to do so thus far.

There are teammates of Elliott’s who have decided to go in another direction as so far two Cowboys have opted out of the upcoming campaign.

Cornerback Maurice Canady – who Dallas agreed to a one-year deal with this offseason – was the first to announce that he had opted out.

Canady is putting his family first with his decision, but, on the field, it likely would have been an uphill battle for him to make the roster. After signing Daryl Worley and selecting two solid corners in the draft, Canady’s spot on the team was not close to a lock. 

However, after this season, Canady might have had a better chance at earning more playing time if he had stayed the course. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis are free agents after 2020 and Worley only signed a one-year deal as well. Those are three CB spots that might open up and a player like Canady could have been a beneficiary.

RELATED: First NFL player opts out of 2020 season

The Cowboys will save on Canady’s salary, but he will still make $150,000 after opting out. Canady’s exit shouldn’t impact the Cowboys as a football team too terribly much as they overhauled the depth at the position over the offseason.

Canady wasn’t the only Cowboys player to take his leave at this point. Rookie undrafted free agent WR Stephen Guidry has also opted out of the season.

Guidry was a long shot to make the Cowboys. The rookie out of Mississippi State probably needed an outstanding camp just to be in the conversation for a roster spot. With preseason games canceled, a player like Guidry would have been further behind the eight-ball without game action to showcase his talents.

Depth behind the top trio of receivers is an issue for Dallas and, at 6’4”, 200 lbs, Guidry was a big-bodied option the Cowboys lack. Though any player who opts out should be respected for their decision, for a player like Guidry, it is not without risk to his professional career as he will now lose out on the vital learning curve for an unsigned player in an NFL camp.

Financially, Guidry’s in a different situation than Canady. As an undrafted player, he’ll only keep the signing bonus he received from the team.

The Cowboys were also working with the knowledge that star defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence had been considering the possibility of opting out due to his wife’s pregnancy. For now, it appears as though Lawrence has decided against sitting out.

Dallas’ defense would look much different without Lawrence on the field and his willingness to play would provide a big boost, both as a player and a leader in the Cowboys’ locker room. Now we just have to see if the league and team can safely play to make his decision worth it.

Do you anticipate more NFL players will opt out of the 2020 season? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.