"With the start of the 2020 NFL season fast approaching, many thoughts and questions roam my mind," Smith wrote on Instagram Friday. "The unfortunate events of the COVID-19 pandemic have put a halt to a lot of things. Football is not one. To continue discussing the many unknowns does not give me the comfort. Risking my health as well as my family's health does not seem like a risk worth taking.
Smith continued: "With my first child due in three weeks, I can't help but think about how will I be able to go to work and take proper precautions around 80-plus people every day to then go home to be with my newborn daughter ... How can I make sure that I don't bring COVID-19 back to my household?"
The NFL and NFLPA have disagreed on different aspects regarding return-to-play protocols ahead of training camp and have yet to announce game-day guidelines. The proposed rules reportedly include banning jersey exchanges between players after games.
Smith acknowledges the league's attempt to find a solution for the situation, but the 27-year-old still sees unanswered questions.
"Yes, we can get tested every day, but if it takes 24 hours to get my results, how can I know each day that I am not spreading this virus or contracting it?" Smith said.
The NFL also reportedly proposed that 35% of player salaries be held in escrow this year to help manage costs in case revenue is impacted by the pandemic. To Smith, playing under those conditions should "at least warrant a pay raise due to the risk, not a cut."
"I am not a lab rat or guinea pig to test theories on," Smith added. "I am a man, a son, brother, soon-to-be father, and I deserve to be safe at work."
In late June, two players and one coach from the Buccaneers tested positive for coronavirus.
Players are weighing sitting out this season, especially athletes with serious asthma concerns, including one elite unknown player, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, who has asthma, tested positive for coronavirus in April.