The Patriots haven't even taken the practice field for their first workout of training camp yet, but their roster keeps getting smaller.
Wide receiver Marqise Lee is the latest New England player to opt out of the 2020 season — the seventh Patriot to do so in the last few days. The news was first reported by the Boston Globe's Jim McBride.
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Lee joins Dont'a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon, Brandon Bolden, Danny Vitale, and Najee Toran as Patriots players who have decided not to play in 2020. The seven players opting out are by far the most of any NFL team to this point. Bill Belichick is taking the opt-outs in stride, saying Friday that he "respects and supports" the decision of any player to 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 in a video conference call. “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."
For Lee, his decision to opt out stems from his family situation, per ESPN's Mike Reiss.
After @globejimmcbride reported that Patriots WR Marqise Lee is opting out of the season, I just spoke with Lee.
Lee became a first-time father in February to a daughter, Alia.
"We just feel like it wasn't smart for us to go out and play this year," Lee told me.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 1, 2020
Lee's decision further thins a wide receiver corps that was already light on experience. The 28-year-old, who had signed a one-year deal in May, was one of just four wideouts with at least one year of experience on the Patriots roster. Here's who remains on the team's depth chart for either Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham to throw to:
- Julian Edelman
- Mohamed Sanu
- N'Keal Harry
- Damiere Byrd
- Jakobi Meyers
- Gunner Olszewski
- Quincy Adeboyejo
- Devin Ross
- Jeff Thomas (rookie)
- Will Hastings (rookie)
The lack of experience is one reason why our own Tom E. Curran ranked the team's wide receiver group as one of the team's weakest positional groups entering the 2020 season. Lee's departure before training camp even starts throws another challenge at Belichick, whose "Next Man Up" mantra will be tested by the seven opt-outs... so far.
For more on the Patriots' rash of opt-outs, check out the latest episode of Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast.