New England Patriots fullback Danny Vitale is opting out.
Agent Leigh Steinberg confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that Vitale, a fifth-year veteran who joined the Patriots as a free agent this year, is taking the leave of absence option afforded NFL players due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vitale and his wife, Caley, are parents to a newborn baby.
Vitale spent the past two seasons with the Green Bay Packers and started 15 games in 2019.
He’s the third known player to exercise the opt-out clause, joining Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Ravens wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas. Seattle Seahawks offensive guard Chance Warmack also plans to opt out, his agent confirmed to the Seattle Times on Monday, and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Dallas Cowboys cornerback Maurice Canady will do the same.
Washington defensive lineman Caleb Brantley was listed on Monday's transaction report as a high-risk opt-out.
Players who voluntarily opt out will receive a $150,000 stipend as a salary advance on their contracts, which will be tolled for one year. Vitale signed a one-year deal worth approximately $1.3 million.
Green Bay Packers fullback Danny Vitale (45) in the game against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. (Photo: Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports)
As the bulk of NFL teams open training camps this week, Steinberg doesn’t expect there will be a flood of players exercising the opt-out clause.
“Football players by their nature are pretty structured and fear injuries, being cut, losing their position and love the game,” Steinberg said in a text-message, adding emphasis with an analogy from the Russian Revolution. “No one will mistake them for the advance guard of the Bolshevik workers storming the czar’s (palace). I think they will play with a few exceptions.”
Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.
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