Amid the coronavirus pandemic, NFL players are able to exercise an opt-out clause in their contracts for the 2020 season.
Those who opt out do not count against the organization’s active roster.
Here are the Patriots who will not be playing the 2020 NFL season:
- Tight end Matt LaCosse: LaCosse and his wife, Jessica, are expecting their first child due in November. He caught 13 passes for 131 yards last season.
- Wide receiver Marqise Lee: Lee, who signed with the Patriots this offseason, welcomed his first child in February and ultimately decided the risk “wasn’t worth it.” Said Lee: “I told Coach [Bill Belichick], at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be doing him justice going out there because I wouldn’t be able to give him my all, knowing my family was back at the house worrying about their situation.” Lee played in only six games last season because of a shoulder injury, and he missed the 2018 season with a knee injury.
- Running back Brandon Bolden: Bolden saw action both in the running game and on special teams last season.
- Safety Patrick Chung: A key member of the secondary, Chung is expecting his second child. He signed a two-year contract extension in May, keeping him with the Patriots through the 2023 season.
- Linebacker Dont’a Hightower: Hightower, an eight-year veteran and team captain, recently welcomed a newborn son with his fiancé, Morgan Hart. Additionally, Hightower’s mother has Type 2 diabetes. Without Hightower, the Patriots have lost much of their linebacker corps, as Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts, and Kyle Van Noy all departed as free agents this offseason.
- Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon: Cannon, a mainstay on New England’s offensive line, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma leading up to the 2011 NFL Draft. It’s likely he qualifies as a “higher risk player,” which would grant him a stipend of $350,000.
- Guard Najee Toran: Toran, 24, spent last season as a member of New England’s practice squad.
- Fullback Dan Vitale: Vitale signed a one-year deal with the Patriots this offseason and was expected to replace veteran James Develin, who announced his retirement in April.
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