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Marquise Goodwin is Philadelphia Eagles’ only 2020 opt-out; Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod discuss safety, reasons for playing

PennLive.com logo PennLive.com 8/6/2020 By Daniel Gallen, pennlive.com

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin is the only Philadelphia Eagles player to opt out of the 2020 NFL season over coronavirus concerns at Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline, according to the NFL transaction deadline.

The 29-year-old Goodwin’s decision was first reported July 28, and he explained his decision later that day in a 12-minute video posted to YouTube.

“After choosing football so many times, I feel like I’m inclined to make the right decision by finally choosing my family first, and that’s real talk,” Goodwin said in the video.

“I won’t take the chance of experiencing another loss because of my selfish decision making. I can’t do it. It’s not something I’m willing to live with. Therefore, I’ve chosen to opt out of playing only for this season or until medical professionals across the world all agree that the world is a safe environment for everyone and not just NFL players. I will not play the 2020-2021 season.”

Goodwin and his wife, Morgan, had their first child together earlier this year. Previously, the couple had experienced three miscarriages, and Goodwin said he wanted to focus on the safety of his family during the coronavirus pandemic.

As a voluntary opt-out, Goodwin will receive a $150,000 advance on his 2021 salary, and his contract will toll with all provisions of his contract applicable to next season. Basically, Goodwin’s contract is paused, and he will be under contract with the Eagles in 2021. He does not receive an accrued season.

If a player is a “high-risk” opt-out, he receives a $350,000 advance, benefits and an accrued season.

Read more: Eagles’ Rodney McLeod hopes Marquand Manuel helps secondary regain respect

The Eagles acquired Goodwin from the San Francisco 49ers in a trade on the final day of the 2020 NFL Draft. Goodwin was expected to add speed to the Eagles wide receiver corps and compete for a spot on the roster with a host of other fast wide receivers who could provide insurance for starter DeSean Jackson.

With Goodwin opting out, more pressure falls to rookies Jalen Reagor, John Hightower and Quez Watkins to make early contributions.

The Eagles have voiced their support for Goodwin’s decision.

“I talked to him the other day,” said quarterback Carson Wentz, whose wife had the couple’s first child in the spring. “Fully respect his decision. Obviously, I’m bummed that I’m not going to be able to play with him, but fully respect those guys’ decisions that do for a number of reasons.”

“I briefly chatted with him throughout this time, and I’m fully in support of what he feels is best for his family,” rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts said last week. “I know he’s had some things and some things he’s had to overcome, and I know he cherishes his relationship with his wife and with his daughter, so I can only support anything and everything. That’s what I would do.”

Read more: Eagles’ Fletcher Cox hopes offseason workout boosts defensive line

Goodwin is the lone Eagles player to opt out, and so far, only three Eagles — Lane Johnson, Nathan Gerry and Jordan Mailata — have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. None of the trio has been activated yet, and Johnson announced he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Of course, coach Doug Pederson spent the week self-quarantining Sunday after he tested positive for the coronavirus. Still, Pederson said he felt safe in the Eagles facility, and that sentiment has been echoed by players and coaches alike. Plus, the staff remains confident in its contingency plans.

The safety at the team facility influenced some players’ decisions not to opt out in 2020.

“It was a conversation I had with my wife, but I think looking at all the protocols that were put in place here, we felt confident in the fact that this is probably one of the safe environments that you can probably be in within these walls,” safety Rodney McLeod said hours before the opt-out deadline Thursday. “Marquise Goodwin, he had to do what was best for his family, and I totally understand, and we support him fully for that decision.”

Read more: ‘I knew I was playing. I love this game so much’: Eagles’ Fletcher Cox discusses opt-out deadline, Doug Pederson and more

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said the NovaCare Complex in South Philly is “probably safer than any other place probably in the city,” and the facility was renovated to allow for social distancing and other safety protocols.

Safety Jalen Mills said players get their temperatures scanned when they enter the building, and he said he received a “clean box” from the team with Lysol wipes and spray, hand sanitizer, tissues and more. Players and staffers in the NovaCare Complex are also wearing tracking devices that beep when someone comes within six feet, and the data can be used for contact tracing.

For Mills, it comes down to wanting to keep himself and his teammates safe in the dangerous and unprecedented circumstances. He feels he owes it to the Eagles.

“We are a family at the end of the day, right? We call ourselves a family,” Mills said. “We say the man to the left and to the right of us is our brother, and at the end of the day, we have to treat it as such. You don’t want to bring in anything as far as this COVID situation into your house, and we have to treat this facility like it is our house, right? I’m calling you my brother, so I don’t want to get you sick, right?

“So when I’m leaving this facility and I am going home or I might go to the grocery store or different things like that, I need to be wearing a mask. I need to have hand sanitizer in my car or in my pocket or wherever it may be. I need to be washing my hands, making sure that I am staying clean, I am staying safe outside of this building. So once I come back in this building, I’m not causing a problem, not only for yourself or anybody else in this building. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Daniel Gallen covers the Philadelphia Eagles for PennLive. He can be reached at dgallen@pennlive.com. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Follow PennLive’s Philadelphia Eagles coverage on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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