Patriots' Devin McCourty rips NFL over reports of league pushing up COVID-19 opt-out deadline

The veteran is about to enter his 11th season with the team

New England Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty ripped the NFL over reports the league was looking to move the deadline for players to opt-out of the 2020 season over the coronavirus.

Several players have opted out already before entering training camp. ESPN reported the league was looking to push the deadline up to Tuesday or Wednesday. The earliest date for players to opt out is Saturday.

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“I think it is an absolute joke that the NFL is changing the opt-out period, mainly because they don't want to continue to see guys opt-out. I'm sure they're shocked about how many guys have opted out,” McCourty told reporters during a video conference call. “I think it's terrible. I think it's B.S. that the league has changed that date.”

More than a half-dozen Patriots players have already opted out of the season, including Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung. McCourty said the new deadline would give players extra pressure.

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“Monday will be our first day in the building, so to try to act like guys are trying to make a decision about something other than virtual meetings is a joke,” McCourty said. “When players understand how much power we have, we've seen things change for us; primarily even with this deal, with the COVID-19 and trying to get everything back, we saw some of that strength. Hopefully, we'll see how everything turns out come Wednesday, if it ends up being the deadline.

“I support guys no matter what they decide, but I'm still out here having fun and figuring things out. So, we'll see how we go.”

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The longtime safety said the date shouldn’t be moved up because the collective bargaining agreement for the 2020 season was already signed.

Players deemed high risk of contracting coronavirus and have an accrued NFL season can receive $350,000 for opting out. Players who opt-out and aren’t high risk can receive $150,000.