6 Patriots Players to Opt Out of 2020 NFL Season

What a time it is to be a New England Patriots fan.

Within the last day, six players opted out of the 2020 NFL season, which makes up approximately one-third of all players deciding to do so.

On July 27, offensive lineman Najee Toran, fullback Danny Vitale, and right tackle Marcus Cannon all made the decision to opt out.

Toran, a 2018 undrafted free agent out of UCLA, spent the 2019 season on the Patriots’ practice squad and was aiming for a backup spot on the roster. He may not be a starter, but it is never a good sign when a team loses depth—especially with offensive linemen, since you can never have too many of them.

Vitale, who signed a one-year, $1.3 million deal with New England in May, cited family concerns for opting out since he and his wife just welcomed a baby. Losing Vitale will not have an immediate impact at the fullback position due to Jakob Johnson and Jake Burt battling to replace the retired James Develin, but he is also the most experienced player in their position, which is not a good sign for a team.

Cannon plans to opt out and will receive the $350,000 higher-risk amount. In their agreement, the NFL and NFLPA will allow players considered “high risk” for COVID-19 to earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season if opting out, while non-risk players can receive $150,000. The two-time Super Bowl winner is a cancer survivor, beating non-Hodgkin lymphoma after being drafted in 2011. His loss weakens the Patriots’ offensive line, which is crucial to protect an inexperienced Jarrett Stidham or Cam Newton.

Also opting out is Brandon Bolden, who was set to enter his ninth season (eighth with New England) and is a crucial component to their special teams lineup. He also provides depth on the offensive side, so losing him would negatively impact fourth-down scenarios. That is also one less target for whoever starts under center.

The Patriots will also lose two key playmakers in the defensive unit. Veteran linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung are the latest players to opt out of the season.

Hightower, a three-time Super Bowl winner and team captain, was expected to lead the defense and call signals with the departures of linebackers Jamie Collins Sr. and Kyle Van Noy. Hightower welcomed his first child with his fiancée earlier this month and has a mom who suffers from Type 2 diabetes.

As for Chung, the 12-year veteran agreed to a two-year extension with New England in May that included a $2 million signing bonus and a base salary of $1.1 million. Like Hightower, Chung shared on teammates Devin and Jason McCourty‘s “Double Coverage” podcast this week that he was expecting a baby with his wife.

Losing two key components of a defense shakes up an organization, especially if they are veterans and captains because it changes the dynamics of the locker room and even playbook.

The Patriots are scheduled to open the season with their home opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13.

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