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HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Dont'a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Devin McCourty #32 after forcing a fumble from Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

Dont’a Hightower Joins 4 Patriots Players In Opting Out Of 2020 Season

Patriots linebacker and defensive captain Dont’a Hightower is opting out of the 2020 NFL season. Hightower, who became a first-time father on July 16, joins four other Patriots notably including offensive lineman Marcus Cannon and running back, Brandon Bolden. According to the NFL’s guidelines regarding players who opt out, Hightower can make $350,000 if the NFL considers him at a higher risk than usual and $150,000 for the year if the NFL does not consider him at risk.

This is a significant blow to the Patriots and possibly to the NFL’s restart plan as a whole. Hightower has been a crux of the Patriot’s defense for the majority of the 2010s, and he has had a knack for making big plays in big moments, most notably his stopping of Marshawn Lynch on the one-yard line during the Seahawks Super Bowl,  which led to the famous Malcolm Butler interception and his strip-sack of Matt Ryan in the Falcons’ Super Bowl, which opened the door for the infamous Patriots 28-3 comeback. It’s a crack in the armor for the NFL’s restart plan – with a more significant player choosing to opt-out, this could start a trend that may gut some teams of their talent for the upcoming season.

With the MLB’s mostly disastrous restart so far and the NBA and UFC’s smooth restarts up to this point, it seems that the only way to successfully get a sport going in a COVID world is to employ some kind of bubble where you can keep all of your athletes in the same place. The NFL has no such plans and the massive roster size for NFL teams pose higher risk for players.

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Written by Nico Ribadeneyra

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