Good News: Patriots are Getting Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, and Marcus Cannon Back in 2021!
I’m a simple man. Really, I am! I like to enjoy my foods like steak tips, hot dogs, burgers, and pizza. Give me a sports game to watch and my bed and I’m in a great mood. A weekend with my girlfriend and I’m in an even better mood. So forgive me for wanting some good news right now when it comes to Boston sports. The Red Sox have a lot of question marks going into the 2021 season. The Celtics? They’re LOL terrible right now with their slide. The Patriots? Yeah, they just finished up a 7-9 campaign.
So when I saw this bit of encouraging news from Ian Rapoport this morning, forgive me for getting excited. Rapoport reported that Dont’a Hightower, Marcus Cannon, and Patrick Chung are expected to play for the Patriots in 2021.
Free agency hasn’t started, but the #Patriots are already getting some reinforcements. Their key opt-outs from 2020 — including LB Dont'a Hightower, S Patrick Chung, and OT Marcus Cannon — are planning to be back for 2021, sources say. Physically, all are in a good place.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 26, 2021
So obviously, this gives the Patriots the boost they need to kick off the frenzy of the off-season they’re hoping to have. Let’s dig a little bit into each player planning to return to the Patriots in 2021.
Dont’a Hightower is arguably the most important opt-out to return to the Patriots in 2021. Hightower is the heart and soul of that Patriots defense. They definitely missed the two time Pro-Bowl inside linebacker in 2021. But the thing is that the Patriots young defensive players got more experience. That’ll make Hightower’s job of leading the defense easier. Plus, we all know how Hightower shows up in big games. Prime examples: his tackle to set up the Malcolm Butler interception in Super Bowl XLIX and the strip sack of Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that changed the momentum of the game for the Patriots. Hightower back in 2021= a happy Al!
Having Patrick Chung back at defensive back is also a huge lift to the Patriots defense. Sure, Kyle Dugger got a lot of playing time as a rookie. But it helps to have veteran leadership with you at all times. Imagine having Chung and/or Dugger flying across the middle for a tackle? It’s only going to make the Patriots better. The secondary won’t mind having Chung back there, so give me all the experience that I can get for this Patriots defense.
Marcus Cannon coming back at right tackle is actually more important than people realize. Cannon solidifies a right side of the line along with Shaq Mason that can help the running game improve more than they did in the 2020 season. Plus, nobody knows what’s going to happen with Joe Thuney. If Thuney leaves, you can slide Michael Onwenu in at left guard. If Thuney gets franchise tagged or somehow stays, then it makes your line that much better. Cannon opens up a lot of things on the right side of the line for the Patriots. That’s what the Patriots need in 2021: consistency. Somewhere. Anywhere! Good to see Cannon will be back on the field in 2021.
This is a great first step for the Patriots in terms of retooling. Now the bigger questions remain. Who will be the quarterback? Will the tight ends and wide receivers improve? But hey, at least some good players will be back in the fold for the Patriots in 2021. Like I said at the beginning, any good news is appreciated at this point. Get me to March 15th and the free agency frenzy please!
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-Al Nahigian (@BigAl2793)