Safety Patrick Chung becomes the latest Patriots player to opt out of the 2020 season.
Remember when Patriots fans were celebrating the Cam Newton signing and how much he could bring to the table with his legs that Tom Brady obviously couldn’t? Well, that feels like ages ago following the developments that have surfaced in the last several hours.
First, it was reported that offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, running back Brandon Bolden, offensive guard Najee Toran and fullback Danny Vitale all decided to opt out of playing the 2020 season due to fears about playing amid the global pandemic.
Shortly after, it was stunningly revealed that stud linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who became a father earlier this month, joined his teammates in choosing not to play.
As impossible as it sounds, the number has now soared to six. According to ESPN insider Mike Reiss, Patriots starting safety Patrick Chung has also opted out.
We’re honestly not sure how New England’s defense bounces back from these losses.
It’d be one thing if the roster turnover from this offseason wasn’t as significant as it was, but the team watched the likes of Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy (among others) walk in free agency.
Forget losing four starters, these players — Collins, Van Noy, Hightower and Chung — are reliable playmakers for the Patriots. Between them, they logged 259 tackles, 19 sacks, 14 passes defended, six forced fumbles and 38 quarterback hits last season. You simply aren’t going to find that sort of production on the current open market.
At this rate, we’d be surprised if this trend with New England didn’t continue, which means that de facto general manger Bill Belichick and the rest of the front office will need to start identifying resources as soon as humanly possibly with training camp fast approaching.
We don’t doubt that the ever-premeditated Patriots had a contingency plan in place in the case that a few players decided against playing during the pandemic, but not even they could have anticipated this.