Report: 3 key opt-outs will rejoin Patriots for 2021 season
Last season was a tough one for the New England Patriots, but things are already looking better thanks to a few key players rejoining the roster. Before the start of the 2020 season, the NFL gave players the choice to play or opt out due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. The Patriots had several players choose to sit out, which negatively impacted their season.
However, key opt-outs Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung and Marcus Cannon are all set to be back for 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
New England finished the 2020 campaign with a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. With the NFL offseason about to kick into high gear, the Patriots are setting up for success in 2021.
Dont’a Hightower has been one of the best linebackers in the league since he was drafted in 2012. Through eight years of NFL experience, Hightower has racked up 314 solo tackles and 25.5 sacks. His return should only bolster the Patriots on the defensive side of the ball.
Patrick Chung should do the same. With 521 solo tackles and 11 interceptions through his career, he has been a focal point of New England’s defense for a decade, with one brief foray to Philadelphia mixed in.
One of the lone bright spots on the Patriots last season was their offensive line. However, with the possibility of Joe Thuney signing with another organization, Marcus Cannon’s return should keep New England’s offensive line near the top of the league. He has been the starting right tackle since 2015 and played a key role in protecting Tom Brady through the years. Now that he’s back, look for Cannon to reclaim his role and protect whoever the new quarterback is.
The future is looking a tad brighter in New England, as Bill Belichick and the front office aim to retake the AFC East from the Buffalo Bills.