Eight New England Patriots players opted out of the 2020 NFL season, and only three remain on the team.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, tight end Matt LaCosse and running back Brandon Bolden have stuck around while offensive tackle Marcus Cannon was traded, safety Patrick Chung announced his retirement and fullback Dan Vitale, wide receiver Marqise Lee and guard Najee Toran were released.
Hightower has not participated in New England’s organized team activities practices, so Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked Thursday morning if he expects the three-time Super Bowl champion to remain on the roster for training camp.
“With all the players who are on the roster and not here, my expectations are that they intend to play, but we know things can change,” Belichick said. “That’s always part of life and part of football. We’ll take it as it comes.
“Guys who are here are working hard. They’re learning, they’re physically improving their training and conditioning and their strength and explosion. The fundamentals and techniques are improving. I know that a lot of the guys that aren’t here, I know they’re working hard. I know the guys that weren’t here for a period of time — one, two, three, four weeks — that have come here are doing the same thing. I can see that some of those guys have worked hard. They have some things to work on, but I’d say generally speaking the guys that have come in that haven’t been here the whole time have been in pretty good condition and are ready to go. I know each guy has his own circumstances. I’m not going to get into that.
“But we’ll see how it goes with some of the players who aren’t here, which is a number of them that aren’t. We’ll welcome them when they get here. It’s all voluntary. When they’re here, they’re here. And we’ll work with them.”
The Patriots’ OTAs sessions are voluntary. New England will hold mandatory minicamp from June 14-16.