Duvernay-Tardif, who has been working to fulfill his requirements to become a doctor in the offseason while working at a clinic in his native Canada, said in a statement posted to social media on Friday that the decision to opt out was a tough one.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my life but I must follow my convictions and do what I believe is right for me personally,” his statement read. “Being at the front line during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system.”
He continued: “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”
Chiefs selected Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out of McGill University. He started 27 of his next 30 games which earned him a four-year, $42.36 million deal in February 2017. It would have paid him a base salary of $2.75 million this season with a $750,000 roster bonus.
But the conditions of a voluntary opt out agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA means he will only receive a $150,000 stipend. Players that opt out for medical reasons will receive $350,000, sources told The Associated Press.
Duvernay-Tardif has dealt with a series of injuries since signing the deal. He fractured his fibula in Week 5 of the 2018 season and was out until the playoffs, and he missed two games with injuries during last season’s Super Bowl run.
He played every offensive snap in the playoffs, helping the Chiefs rally to beat the San Francisco 49ers for the title.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.