BOSTON (CBS) — Tuesday was a rough one at 1 Patriots Place, as the number of players to opt out of the 2020 season climbed from two to six. That list included some key contributors on defense (Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung), offense (Marcus Cannon), and special teams (Brandon Bolden), as well as a promising free-agent addition (Danny Vitale).

If the NFL can indeed pull off a 2020 season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, then the Patriots figure to be operating with some major holes on the roster.

Or … is this all part of Bill Belichick’s master plan?

At least one anonymous NFL executive believes that to be the case.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared his exchange with an NFL executive, who believed that somehow, some way, the half-dozen opt-outs in the span of about 18 hours is all part of some brilliant scheme devised by the NFL’s grandest schemer.

Whether that suspicion is based on some hunch or just plain paranoia, it speaks to the way Belichick is viewed around the league. Even when a seemingly bad trend is affecting the Patriots, opponents view it as some sneaky way to make the team better.

If the Patriots were to turn the rash of opt-outs into a positive, it could be done with all of the added salary cap space gained on Tuesday. The Patriots could sign a free agent for 2020 and/or rework and extend the contracts of players currently on the roster, with the plan of building the team for the long term instead of over-investing in a 2020 season that may not even happen.

One way or the other, though, at least one NFL executive watched the Patriots lose a handful of starters and then decided that Belichick was playing some high-level chess.

Comments (10)
  1. RichD says:

    “Hello Dont’a, Marcus, Brandon, Danny, Patrick. This is Coach. Listen, I need you guys to take the season off so we can win another SuperBowl. OK?” NFL front office continues down their path of buffoonary.

  2. B says:

    First season after losing Tom Brady, of course he’s going to want the extra time to train Cam and avoid what could be a terrible season.

  3. richardecredico says:

    he’s just simply trying to get the season cancelled because he is smart. They should not be playing.

  4. bryantvalenti says:

    He is cooking something!!!! I guarantee it!

  5. Lori Murphy says:

    Bahahahahahahahahaha! I love that BB is in everybody’s head, they need to stop and listen to themselves to understand how rediculous they sound!

  6. lakerskc15 says:

    pats new motto is tank for Trevor

  7. dublds says:

    It’s the Patriot way. A tight ship. It would seem to me that all that happened is that Belichick gave everyone a deadline to report whether they were in or out. As such the 6 that were out were all reported on the same day. There’s no conspiracy here. There never was. The 31 teams that passed on Cam Newton are all the evidence you need to grasp how the Pats go to the SB every year. It not even because Belichick is some 3D chess master. It’s clearly just that every other coach and GM is a complete incompetent. $8 million for a MVP quarterback with superhuman size and speed, still in his prime?!!! No special genius is required to take that deal. Yet 31 teams passed?! Give me one reason why every front office in the NFL hasn’t been fired. This deal will prove to be a New Pearl Harbor to those other 31 teams. The Pats dynasty may just be getting started. People will be talking about the Newton deal 100 years from now and still scratching their heads. Belichick is competent. I’ll give him that much. And nobody else. You hearing me Mike Tomlin?

    1. Jack Daniels says:

      @dublds: When you stop drinking the Patriots cool-aid you will eventually come to the reality that BB knew that they would STINK this season!

  8. Shop38 says:

    They do not even realize that Bill had covid manufactured in China knowing he had a cap problem for 2020 and the league and union would lose their minds and invent opt out!

  9. JS says:

    Sounds like the “anonymous NFL executive” needs some real work to do rather than creating rumors. Bill is taking care of his players They come first. If they don’t feel it’s safe enough for them to play, they should have the right to opt out. Health and safety should come first….not the game. Brave Coach BB! Take notice other coaches!

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