The NFL’s deadline for players to opt-out has come and gone. As of 4 pm EST today, the players are locked into their contracts and have to play this season – barring injury of course.
The Patriots led the league with eight players to opt-out. Most notably, Marcus Cannon, Dont’a Hightower, Brandon Bolden, and Patrick Chung. Additionally, Matt LaCosse, Danny Vitale, Marqise Lee, and Najee Toran have also opted out of playing for the 2020 season.
Losing Hightower and Chung are big hits to the defense, but I’m confident that the young talent will be ready to fill their shoes. At least to the best of their ability. Chung is a veteran that many young players look up to; he served as a captain in 2018. Chung often played alongside Devin McCourty, they both complimented each others playing style at safety. It will be nice to see who Bill Belichick decides to slide in that now vacant spot.
The loss of Dont’a Hightower hits hard. Hightower has been a captain for the defense 3 times, only ever taking a step back for Patrick Chung. He’s great on the fly making sure that everyone is where they need to be. Hightower is receptive handing out the sudden gameplay adjustments made from the sideline? At least the Patriots have a lot of depth at linebacker. With Hightower’s absence, Ja’Whaun Bentley will see much more time on the field. It will be nice to see some of the hidden talent get the chance to grow into their own players.
Losing Marcus Cannon leaves a large door at right tackle. He’s a huge blow to the already thin offensive line. The clock is ticking for Belichick and I’m not sure he beats the buzzer here. I know Marshall Newhouse is still on the open market but I’d rather not have him back on the team, to put it nicely.
Cannon was the first player to opt-out of the season, and I have the utmost respect for him for standing up for the health of his family – and more importantly himself. When the opt-outs started to roll in I was getting nervous that everyone was going to opt-out, they seemed to not stop once they started. I thought we would have seen more players out for the season across the league based on comments from players themselves. I think they must have felt comfortable with their teams’ safety measures in their facilities and the plan within the NFL for game protocols.
-Jess Donahue (@jldx392)