Why Ben Watson Expects Patriots To Cope With Wave Of Opt Outs In 2020

Whatever happens between now and Thursday afternoon, Ben Watson has reason to believe the New England Patriots will be okay.

The former Patriots tight end insisted last week during his appearance on Sirius XM NFL Radio the Patriots will be able to cope with the wave of players opting out of the 2020 NFL season because head coach Bill Belichick always trains his team to expect the only constant: change. An NFL-high eight Patriots players have opted out since last week, and that number might increase before the 4 p.m. ET on Thursday deadline for doing so.

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“One thing coach Belichick always talked about, all the way from my first year here in 2004 to coming back this year is that there’s always change in the league,” Watson said. “I’m not sure if he realized there would be this much change.

“This much change is always difficult for anybody, especially when you factor in the fact that you didn’t really have much an offseason at all. Training camp is going to be truncated a bit. The teams that have the most consistency and the least amount of turnover will be at a peculiar advantage this year that maybe they haven’t had much of in the past.

“But if anybody can deal with change, it’s the coaches in Foxboro, because that’s something that they always talk about.

“Cam Newton, we’ll start there. I’m excited to see him play because this is a guy who’s a former MVP, a guy that has a lot of talent, a guy who hopefully is healthy now and he’s a game-changer. That being said, there’s a whole new system that’s there. This is a different look and a different team. That’s the name of the game in the NFL. It’s just with the Patriots there has been so much consistency, especially at the quarterback position, that it looks really strange now.”

Watson joins former Patriots assistant coach Dante Scarnecchia among those who believe Belichick and Co. will overcome the obstacles the opt outs represent.

Nevertheless, the task seems immense, with the likes of Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon, Brandon Bolden, Danny Vitale, Marqise Lee, Najee Toran and Matt LaCosse deciding against playing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Patriots will assume a new look in light of these temporary departures. Although many expect New England’s results to suffer, Watson still trusts in Belichick to field a winner.

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Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images