So far, six New England Patriots players have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season.
Danny Vitale, Najee Toran, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon, Dont'a Hightower, and Brandon Bolden each recently opted out due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Their decisions were met with complete support from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
During a video conference with reporters Friday, Belichick made it clear he respects each player's choice to sit this year out.
“I respect all of them,” Belichick said. “I respect all the players on our team. We all have to make decisions. I talked to those guys, and they explained their situation. They had to make the decision that was best for them, and I totally respect and support it, 100 percent.”
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Many of the NFL players opting out are doing so to protect loved ones from potential exposure to the coronavirus, or because they have pre-existing health conditions.
Belichick acknowledged the various reasons for players deciding to sit out this season and noted he's unsure whether additional Patriots players will opt out.
"I think everybody’s got to make their own individual decisions on that, and they have to weigh their own situation,” Belichick said. “Each one of us is unique and we all have different lives, situations, families, environments, and so forth and so on. There’s no two situations that are the same. Everybody will have to make their own decision on that.
“My crystal ball is kind of cloudy right now, so I have no idea of what will happen along those lines. I think everybody in the league, every team in the league, every player, every coach, everybody in the league is involved in that to some degree. So we’ll just have to see how it turns out.”
As a result of the six Patriots players opting out, New England gets an additional $25 million in salary cap space that they can either spend or roll over into 2021.
The deadline for player opt outs has not yet been finalized.