Matthew Slater’s decision to play this season helped the New England Patriots in more ways than one.
In addition to the obvious on-field and locker-room benefits — we’re talking about one of the best punt/kick coverage players in NFL history and a player who has served as a Patriots captain in each of the last nine seasons — Slater choosing to opt out due to COVID-19 concerns might have prompted other New England players to do the same, according to a report Thursday from NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo.
“He being a team captain, I gather that some other guys were looking toward Slater to see what he was going to do,” Garafolo said on “Good Morning Football.” “So it’s possible this list would have grown even more if Slater had opted out.”
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 30, 2020
That list of opt-outs already includes six Patriots players, including established veterans Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon and Brandon Bolden. Fullback Danny Vitale and guard Najee Toran also are sitting out.
“I can’t really speak (for) those guys,” the safety and former co-captain said on “CBS This Morning.” “I know a lot of guys are thinking — it is; it’s a scary situation. And whatever they decide, then that’s on them. I can’t really speak for them. Like I said, everyone has different situations. Some people don’t have people at high risk in their household or around them, so it’s a little different. Hopefully, whatever they do, they make the right decision that’s going to keep their family healthy, keep them healthy and be safe.
“So we’ll see. That’s going to come out eventually. We’ve got a couple more days.”
The deadline for player opt-outs is Aug. 3.