The receiver-needy Patriots likely can bank on at least one new addition for the 2021 campaign.
Marqise Lee signed with New England last offseason after five years with the Jacksonville Jaguars but opted out of the 2020 season due to a desire to protect his newborn daughter amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But the 29-year-old apparently is excited about the possibility of returning next season to suit up for the Patriots.
Check out this excerpt from the latest notes column published by ESPN’s Mike Reiss:
The Patriots asked the eight players who opted out of the 2020 season to return for year-end physicals last week. “I got to Boston on Sunday, did the physical and everything was perfect. As far as this year goes, I’m eager to get back,” relayed receiver Marqise Lee.
He said he has no regrets about opting out to protect his newborn daughter, Alia, and plans to learn more about NFL plans but seems to be trending toward playing in 2021. Among the others, running back Brandon Bolden has said he plans to play. My hunch is that safety Patrick Chung, tight end Matt LaCosse and fullback Danny Vitale make the same decision, while in my opinion, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and linebacker Dont’a Hightower are less of a certainty to return.
Reiss’ report further fuels the growing belief that the Patriots will see most — if not all — of their NFL-high eight opt-outs return in 2021. Of course, whether those players wind up earning a spot on the roster is a different matter altogether, and money surely will become a factor.
As for Lee, who signed a one-year deal with New England, he could provide a real boost to the Patriots offense if he stays healthy.
The USC product missed 10 games in 2019 due to injuries. But across the previous two seasons, he averaged 60 receptions and 777 receiving yards while amassing six touchdowns.