Usually at this time of year, the players who will be sidelined due to suspension for the first week or more of the NFL season is a significant list.
This year, the most notable name is a player not even on a roster.
Antonio Brown will be suspended for the first eight games of the season. The controversial receiver isn’t on a team now. There are other players who might not be on the field at the start of the season due to suspensions or holdouts, or they still haven’t signed with a team. There will also be some injuries, like the season-ending one to Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James, but with teams keeping a tighter grasp on injury information without preseason games, we will not know the full extent until the first injury report comes out next week. There is also the full list of 66 players who have opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.
Here’s a look at the players who will be out for the start of the season:
Brown got his eight-game suspension for a litany of off-field issues. His suspension starts Week 1 whether he’s on a roster or not. The NFL could extend the suspension based on the results of a civil suit stemming from sexual assault allegations.
There aren’t many key names among the suspended players heading into the season. The known suspensions for NFL players going into the season (h/t to Spotrac):
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland (four games)
Seattle Seahawks reserve offensive lineman Kyle Fuller (two games)
Detroit Lions safety Jayron Kearse (three games)
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Josh Mauro (five games)
Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Mike Pennel (two games)
Los Angeles Chargers safety Roderic Teamer (four games).
Former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Kentrell Brothers (nine games).
It’s also worth noting New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker, a 2019 first-round pick, is on the commissioner’s exempt list as his legal case for an alleged armed robbery is settled.
Receiver Josh Gordon re-signed with the Seattle Seahawks but is awaiting reinstatement from his latest suspension.
Like the suspensions list, there aren’t any notable holdouts heading into the season. That could change.
Potential holdouts for players like Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon and Chargers pass rusher Melvin Ingram were rectified with new contracts from their teams. Yannick Ngakoue’s absence from the Jacksonville Jaguars after he got the franchise tag ended when Ngakoue was traded to the Vikings.
While there aren’t any holdouts at the moment, we’ll see how some stars handle their contract situations. Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said he won’t hold out if he doesn’t get a new deal, but that was months ago. New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara missed some training camp practices, reportedly due to his contract, but is back at practice as he awaits a new deal. Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook also is seeking a new contract. It might also be worth keeping an eye on Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz after the NFL Network reported that contract negotiations came to an “abrupt halt” this week.
We’ll see next week if there are any last-minute holdouts.
Unsigned free agents
Jadeveon Clowney still hasn’t been signed. That seems hard to believe. Clowney was arguably the best player in this free-agent class. Then there were questions about his overall value considering he’s not an elite pass rusher, he couldn’t come in for physicals once COVID-19 restrictions started and teams might be wary of a long-term deal not knowing the future of the salary cap. So Clowney waits, though there are teams reportedly pursuing him before the season starts.
Among the available veterans who could be picked up if teams find they have a need: Running back Devonta Freeman, tight end Delanie Walker, offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, guard Larry Warford, pass rusher Ziggy Ansah, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, linebacker Nigel Bradham and safety Reshad Jones.
Safety Earl Thomas is also available after being cut by the Baltimore Ravens following a fight in training camp. Thomas is an elite talent, but he is aging and might not be the right fit in every locker room.
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