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Buffalo Bills lose Beasley, Lotulelei, Davis, Butler to COVID-19 reentry protocol

Five players in close contact with a COVID-positive staffer.

The Buffalo Bills season opener is about three weeks away, which is a good thing—because if their season were underway, the team would be left without several key players in their next game. Cole Beasley, Matt Milano, Gabriel Davis, Star Lotulelei, and A.J. Klein Vernon Butler were all impacted by the league’s COVID-19 protocols, the result of close contact with a trainer who tested positive for coronavirus. Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News had the first reports, which were later corroborated by other members of the Buffalo Bills beat.

Update 4:00 p.m. Eastern: Matt Milano and A.J. Klein were not deemed close contacts by the NFL but they were sent home Tuesday as a precautionary measure. They are allowed to return to practice Wednesday.

The trainer wasn’t feeling well this morning and went to receive a COVID-19 test. It was not his NFL-mandated biweekly test. End update.

These players, none of whom are (apparently) vaccinated, all tested negative for COVID-19 this morning. However, since the trainer (who was vaccinated, but tested positive for the coronavirus nonetheless) came into close contact with them, these players had to enter the stringent quarantine policies implemented by the NFL this year.

What that means is that those players must be sent home for the next five days, and tested for COVID-19 each day, before they can return to the team facilities. It rules each of them out of the final preseason game (though, to be fair, none of these players were likely to play) and it would almost certainly impact their game availability in the regular season.

There’s room to argue that the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols have a bit of tunnel vision in focusing on unvaccinated people at the moment. Since the trainer is vaccinated, he only gets tested every two weeks, meaning we don’t have a clear idea of how long he tested positive.

Nevertheless, here’s hoping that these Bills continue to be clear of the coronavirus so they can safely return to practice next week.