LA Rams News: OL Chandler Brewer exercises his “Opt-Out” option

LA Rams News: Offensive lineman Chandler Brewer is the first player to exercise his “Opt-Out” option

The LA Rams may have had plans for offensive lineman Chandler Brewer for the 2020 NFL season. But those plans will be placed on hold for the time being. You see, he is the first Rams player to exercise his option to “Opt-out” of the 2020 NFL Season. Due to Brewer’s medical history, he will be considered a “High Risk” category.

As per Stu Jackson’s interview on therams.com website, Brewer explained:

“With my history with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I am at high risk and will opt out of playing in the NFL this season,” Brewer said. “I would like to thank the Rams for their support and I look forward to getting back on the field in 2021 and beyond.”

While this is certainly understandable, it does create a bit of a hiccup in terms of the Rams offensive line strategy.  The team had re-signed veteran Andrew Whitworth to a three-year deal but clearly needs to find a successor this training camp to cover if Whitworth is injured or tests positive for COVID-19 once again this season.

Brewer’s place on the team remains intact

In our preseason analysis, we had projected Brewer as a player who would be able to compete for that backup role.  This will likely mean that offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom, who played left guard in 2019 before his season ended due to injury, will take snaps at the left tackle spot to back up Whitworth this season.

As for Brewer? LA Rams general manager Les Snead commented on his choice to opt-out:

“Chandler is a promising player in this league and we fully support his decision,” Rams General Manager Les Snead said. “He has fought through adversity before and we look forward to him being back on the field with us next year.”

The option to opt-out was a 2020 option negotiated by the NFL and NFLPA to allow players to choose an option to avoid COVID-19 risks inherent with playing football for the 2020 season. Brewer has been placed on the team’s Reserve/Opt-Out list under the “Higher Risk” opt-out category. He will not be eligible to play this year, and he will not count against the team’s roster limits nor salary cap calculations.

Opt-out options

So what is the opt-out option? And what does the “High-Risk” designation mean? For those answers, we’ll turn to Sports Illustrated’s Patricia Trania’s July 29, 2020 article on the subject. There are two categories: a voluntary opt-out, or the high-risk category.  For players choosing the voluntary opt-out, the are eligible for a $150,000 advance against their 2020 base salary, and their contract will toll (freeze). They will not earn an accrued season for 2020 in terms of free agency calculations.

If the player qualifies for the High-Risk category, they will receive a $350,000 stipend. That means that this is not considered an advance against his 2020 salary, but is simply counted against a total player cost. A player in this category does earn an accrued season for 2020 in terms of free agency calculations.

Brewer is signed through 2021. Since the LA Rams project to have six picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, he will continue to play a role in the Rams roster planning for next season. Hopefully, things will normalize by next year and he will be able to play for the Rams without having to weigh health risks in his decision.