BOSTON (CBS) — Earlier this offseason, defensive captain Devin McCourty said that he anticipated a return for the Patriots players who opted out of the 2020 season. Now, that informed hunch has been backed by some reporting.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Friday that the “key” players who opted out last year are planning on playing in 2021. That list includes, of course, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, and tackle Marcus Cannon.READ MORE: Mass. To Receive Significantly Less Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine Doses Next Week
“Physically, all are in a good place,” Rapoport said.
Free agency hasn’t started, but the #Patriots are already getting some reinforcements. Their key opt-outs from 2020 — including LB Dont'a Hightower, S Patrick Chung, and OT Marcus Cannon — are planning to be back for 2021, sources say. Physically, all are in a good place.READ MORE: Dorchester Grandmother Killed In Shooting While Sitting On Her Front Porch
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 26, 2021
The players will, obviously, be a year older, but a year without contact and injuries could be beneficial. That’s especially true for Hightower, who’s played in all 16 games just once in his eight-year career, and also for Chung, whose physical playing style leads to regular appearances on the injury report.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Rapoport’s tweet did not mention the other Patriots players who opted out, a list that includes fullback Dan Vitale, tight end Matt LaCosse, running back/special teamer Brandon Bolden, receiver Marqise Lee and offensive lineman Najee Toran.