A league-high eighth New England Patriots player has elected to opt-out for the 2020 season.
Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse will sit out the 2020 season over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, a source confirmed to NESN.com on Sunday. ESPN’s Field Yates first reported the news. LaCosse and his wife are expecting a baby during the 2020 season.
LaCosse will join running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale, wide receiver Marqise Lee, guard Najee Toran, right tackle Marcus Cannon, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung on the Patriots’ reserve/opt-out list. No other NFL team has more than two player opt-outs.
The Patriots are left with Ryan Izzo and rookies Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Jake Burt and Rashod Berry at tight end. Fullback Jakob Johnson will join the tight ends in meetings and practice drills. Asiasi and Keene are both 2020 third-round picks. Burt and Berry are undrafted free agents. Berry also could play linebacker for the Patriots.
LaCosse played 11 games, starting eight, in his first season with the Patriots last year. He caught 13 passes for 131 yards with a touchdown as he struggled with injuries.
Izzo, a 2018 seventh-round pick, played six games, starting four, in 2019, catching six passes for 114 yards with a touchdown. Izzo also dealt with injuries.
Patriots tight end Ben Watson and fullback James Develin both retired this offseason. The Patriots traded tight end Rob Gronkowski, who sat out the 2019 season, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jordan Reed, Delanie Walker and Jeff Heuerman are among the top available free-agent tight ends.