ORCHARD PARK — The Bills lost one of their defense’s top run stuffers on Tuesday, as multiple sources revealed that veteran defensive tackle Star Lotulelei voluntarily opted-out of the 2020 season due to concerns over COVID-19.
Lotulelei started 16 games for the Bills last season, recording a combined 19 tackles, three of which came for a loss, along with two sacks. Lotulelei was expected to be a starter for Buffalo once again this season.
Helping fill the void left by Lotulelei will be newly added DT Vernon Butler who played last season for the Panthers, and DT Harrison Phillips who returns to the Bills’ lineup after a knee injury cut his 2019 season short.
Lotulelei’s opt-out was one of many around the NFL on Tuesday, as players from various teams throughout the league also decided to forgo the upcoming, unprecedented campaign. Elsewhere in the AFC East, the Patriots were hit hard by opt-outs as over five players withdrew from participation, including elite defensive players Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung.
This past Friday, Chiefs starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first NFL player to voluntarily opt-out, while Washington Football Team defensive lineman Caleb Brantley was the first to opt-out due to high risk medical issues.
Each scenario, a voluntary opt-out and high risk opt-out, carries separate salary implications. Those voluntarily opting-out will receive a $150,000 salary advance and those high risk candidates will receive a $350,000 salary advance.
THREE MAKE TOP-100; WHITE IN TOP-50
In addition to White, new Bills’ wide receiver Stefon Diggs was No. 54 on the list while quarterback Josh Allen just squeaked in at No. 87.
The NFL Top-100, which began in 2011 is a list of the league’s top-players as voted on by the players themselves.
This marks the first year since 2016 that the Bills have had more than two players on the list. Buffalo had no players on the list last season.