BOSTON (CBS) — NFL players have the choice to opt out of the 2020 season, as the league tries its best to hold a normal season in the midst of a pandemic and national health crisis. We now know of two Patriots players who will be taking that option, while a third player might not be far behind.
Fullback Danny Vitale, whom the Patriots signed this offseason to help offset the loss of James Develin, will not be playing in 2020. The 26-year-old’s agent told USA Today that Vitale — a father of a newborn baby — will be opting out.
The Patriots do have Jakob Johnson on the roster at the fullback position.
Additionally, offensive lineman Najee Toran will opt out of the season. The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride reported that news.
In addition to fullback Dan Vitale, #Patriots guard Najee Toran also has opted out of the season, per league source.
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) July 27, 2020
The 24-year-old Toran spent the 2019 season on the Patriots’ practice squad after spending the 2018 season in the 49ers organization.
The offensive line could be set to take a bigger hit, too, as 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Jim Murray reported that right tackle Marcus Cannon will opt out of the season as well. That report was slightly disputed by the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian, who reported that “Cannon is carefully considering opting out for the 2020 season, but by no means has a decision been made.”
Cannon, 32, battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, the year the Patriots drafted him. He has since played in 115 games and started 69 games for New England, winning three Super Bowls.
Whether by coincidence or not, this news comes on the same day that it was revealed that 11 Miami Marlins players plus two coaches tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to prevent unique and unprecedented challenges to sports leagues trying to operate during very uncertain times.