The AFC East will see the return of the most players that opted out in 2020 next season most likely. That’s because the New England Patriots had an NFL leading eight total players decide to step away from football last season because of COVID-19 via opt outs.
In addition, some of the important names on that have recently revealed they intend to come back next year. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Friday, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon will all be back in the fold.
All three players were considered starters.
Naturally the Patriots’ change at quarterback last season did not help them, evident by their 7-9 overall record. But missing such big pieces didn’t help, either. The Bills only had one player opt out, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, now imagine three starters not playing?
It’s easy to forget the Pats were very shorthanded in 2020, aside from just Tom Brady.
Here’s the full list of players that opted out in New England:
Matt LaCosse, TEMarqise Lee, WRPatrick Chung, SDont’a Hightower, LBBrandon Bolden, RBMarcus Cannon, OTDanny Vitale, FBNajee Toran, OL