The New England Patriots will be without two franchise cornerstones in 2020, per reports.

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon plan to opt out of the 2020 NFL season, ESPN's Adam Schefter and the Boston Herald's Karen Guregian reported Tuesday.

Hightower and Cannon join running back Brandon Boldenfullback Danny Vitale and offensive guard Najee Toran as the five Patriots players who reportedly plan to sit out the 2020 season as of Tuesday. (Update: Patrick Chung has since opted out of the 2020 season, upping the team's total to six.)

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Hightower and his fiancée had their first child earlier this month, while Cannon, who overcame a 2011 bout with cancer and has three children, is opting out due to concerns about playing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both players are significant losses on both sides of the ball; Cannon started 15 games at right tackle last season, while Hightower is a defensive captain and two-time Pro Bowler. Both have been with the team for at least eight years and won three Super Bowls in New England. 

NFL players are expected to report to training camp this week, so we could see more players opt out over the next few days as they weigh the health of themselves and their family against playing football in 2020.


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