Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams and New York Giants offensive lineman Nate Solder have opted out of the 2020 NFL season because of coronavirus concerns, the teams announced Wednesday.
Williams, who helped lead the Chiefs to a win over the San Francisco 49ers in February’s Super Bowl LIV, becomes the second starter from last year’s team to sit out this season. Starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the 2020 campaign last week.
“As an organization, we certainly understand and respect Damien’s choice, knowing it was made in the best interest of his family,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said in a statement Wednesday. “He means a lot to our football team as a player and a person, and we’re going to miss having him around this season.”
Williams was limited to 11 regular-season games (six starts) in 2019 due to multiple injuries. Despite missing five games, he led the Chiefs in rushing with 498 yards.
In the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory over the 49ers, Williams rushed for 104 yards and scored the game’s final two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. In total, he scored six touchdowns in Kansas City’s three postseason matchups.
The Chiefs selected LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of April’s NFL Draft. They also have two of their tailbacks from last season — Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson — and free-agent acquisition DeAndre Washington.
Meanwhile, Solder became the first Giants player to opt out of the upcoming season. He informed the team of his decision Wednesday.
Solder cited family concerns, including his son’s battle with cancer and his own fight against cancer. He also has a newborn son.
“My family and I have been praying, wrestling and listening to God about our current circumstances and whether it is best that I play football this season,” Solder said in a statement. “Our primary goal is to pursue God and listen to the Holy Spirit in everything we do. As hard as that can be and as daunting as what He asks us to do can seem, we have come to believe, trust and wait on the Lord. That is why we have chosen to pause for this season.
“Our family has health concerns, most notably our son’s ongoing battle with cancer, as well as my own bout with cancer. We also welcomed a new addition to our family this spring, a baby boy. With fear and trembling, we struggle to keep our priorities in order and, for us, our children’s health and the health of our neighbors comes before football.”
Solder signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants in 2018. According to Spotrac, he was scheduled to earn $13 million and count $19.5 million against the salary cap this season.
According to league rules, players considered at-risk for COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and an accrued season if they decide to opt out. Players without risk who opt out can be fronted $150,000.