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Star Lotulelei opts out of 2020 NFL season; Aleva Hifo placed on COVID-19 reserve list

SHARE Star Lotulelei opts out of 2020 NFL season; Aleva Hifo placed on COVID-19 reserve list

In this Aug. 23, 2019, file photo, Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (98) watches following an NFL preseason football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit. The Bills starting defensive tackle is voluntarily opting out from playing this season.

Duane Burleson, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — Star Lotulelei won’t take the field in 2020, as the Buffalo Bills defensive tackle and former University of Utah standout has voluntarily chosen to opt out of playing this season.

The NFL and NFL Players Association reached an agreement that allows players to opt out of this fall’s season over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, league players will have seven days to decide whether to opt out this season once the agreement is signed.

Players who opt out and are considered high risk for coronavirus can receive $350,000, while players without risk can receive $150,000 as a cash advance on their existing contracts, per USA Today. In both cases, players’ contracts roll over to the next season.

In February, Lotulelei and the Bills agreed to restructure the final three years of his contract, according to ESPN. He was set to earn a fully guaranteed base salary of $4.5 million this season.

By opting out, his contract with Buffalo will run through 2023.

Lotulelei, who also starred at Snow College and Bingham High, has played seven seasons in the NFL, including his first five with the Carolina Panthers and the last two in Buffalo. He’s started every game over the past two seasons for the Bills, accounting for 32 tackles, two sacks, two passes defended and an interception during that time.

Other local NFL news

On Sunday, former BYU wide receiver Aleva Hifo was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the Kansas City Chiefs. The reserve/COVID-19 list was created for players who either test positive for COVID-19 or who’ve been quarantined after being in close contact with someone who is infected.

Hifo signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent following the 2020 NFL draft in late April. He had 118 career receptions for 1,336 yards and seven touchdowns at BYU while also returning kickoffs and punts.

Former Utah quarterback Alex Smith, now with the Washington Football Team, started training camp on the active/physically unable to perform list. He was recently cleared to return to practice and has been recovering from a gruesome leg injury suffered in November 2018.

New Washington coach Ron Rivera sees Smith factoring into the team’s quarterback competition if he can pass his physical. “If that happens, I think this is a guy that becomes part of our equation. That’s the truth of the matter,” Rivera said, according to The Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala.

On Tuesday, the first day of NFL teams reporting to training camp, two locals were placed on the non-football illness list — former Corner Canyon offensive tackle Branden Bowen (by the Panthers) and former Utah State wide receiver Siaosi Mariner (by the Las Vegas Raiders).

Also, former Utah and Layton High defensive back Julian Blackmon was placed on the non-football injury list by Indianapolis. The Colts drafted Blackmon in the third round in April. The safety tore his ACL in the Pac-12 championship game last December.