Which Patriots Opponents Were Hit Hardest By Player Opt-Outs?


August 6, 2020

The deadline for players to opt out of the 2020 season came and went Thursday afternoon. The final tally: 66 players across 29 teams.

The New England Patriots experienced the NFL’s largest exodus — eight opt-outs, including five projected starters — but nearly all of their 2020 opponents had at least one player choose not to play this season because of concerns about COVID-19.

While some lost only practice squad types and low-level roster hopefuls, several — including the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills — will be without key contributors.

Here’s a full list of Patriots opponent opt-outs, broken down by week:

Miami Dolphins (Weeks 1 and 15): WR Allen Hurns, WR Albert Wilson
The Dolphins will be without two of their top four wideouts in Hurns and Wilson, who combined for 75 catches, 767 yards and three touchdowns a year ago. And with impressive 2019 rookie Preston Williams working his way back from a torn ACL, DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki could be asked to carry Miami’s passing game in the early going.

Seattle Seahawks (Week 2): G Chance Warmack
Warmack, a 2013 first-round pick, was out of football last season. He was set to compete for a starting spot at right guard.

Las Vegas Raiders (Week 3): LB Ukeme Eligwe, CB D.J. Killings, DE Jeremiah Valoaga
Neither Eligwe nor Killings (a former Patriots UDFA) appeared in a game last season. Valoaga played in four for the San Francisco 49ers.

Kansas City Chiefs (Week 4): RB Damien Williams, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT Lucas Niang
A few significant losses here. Williams very well could have been the MVP of Super Bowl LIV, and Duvernay-Tardif, the first NFL player to opt out, has been the Chiefs’ starting right guard since 2015. Kansas City will hope first-round draft pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire can ably replace Williams. Niang, a 2020 third-round pick, was the lone rookie to opt out.

Denver Broncos (Week 5): OT Ja’Wuan James, NT Kyle Peko
James is Denver’s starting right tackle. He signed a four-year, $51 million contract last offseason before a knee injury limited him to three games. Peko is a reserve D-tackle.

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San Francisco 49ers (Week 7): WR Travis Benjamin, OT Shon Coleman
Benjamin was eyeing a fresh start with the reigning NFC champs after missing most of last season — his last as a Los Angeles Charger — with a quad injury. The Niners should have wideout Deebo Samuel back by this point barring any setbacks in his return from a broken foot. Coleman, a former starter in Cleveland, didn’t appear in a game in either of the last two seasons.

Buffalo Bills (Weeks 8 and 16): CB E.J. Gaines, DT Star Lotulelei
The Bills dodged a bullet when All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White decided to play after mulling an opt-out, but their defense — one of the NFL’s best in 2019 — took a hit regardless. Gaines was expected to have a role in Buffalo’s well-stocked secondary after sitting out 2019 with a core muscle injury. Lotulelei made 16 starts last season and hasn’t missed a game since 2015.

New York Jets (Weeks 9 and 17): LB C.J. Mosley, WR Josh Doctson, OL Leo Koloamatangi
Mosley arrived in East Rutherford with high expectations last offseason, but the four-time Pro Bowler managed to play in just two games and now won’t see the field until 2021. Doctson, a 2016 first-rounder who never panned out in Washington, was heading into his first season as a Jet after appearing in one game with Minnesota last year. Koloamatangi is a reserve lineman who has yet to make his NFL debut.

Baltimore Ravens (Week 10): WR/KR De’Anthony Thomas, OT Andre Smith
Scooped up from Kansas City last November, Thomas was Baltimore’s top kick/punt returner down the stretch. The 33-year-old Smith was expected to provide depth behind starting tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr.

Houston Texans (Week 11): DT Eddie Vanderdoes
A rookie starter for the Raiders in 2017, Vanderdoes missed all of 2018 with a torn ACL, then split last season between the Texans’ practice squad and active roster, appearing in three games.

Arizona Cardinals (Week 12): OT Marcus Gilbert
An ACL wiped out Gilbert’s first season in Arizona after eight in Pittsburgh. His opt-out could give second-round rookie Josh Jones the chance to start from the jump at right tackle.

Los Angeles Chargers (Week 13): None
The Chargers were one of just three teams without a single opt-out. The Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steeles were the others.

Los Angeles Rams (Week 14): G Chandler Brewer
Brewer appeared in seven games (no starts) as an undrafted rookie last year.

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