How Will the New England Patriots Benefit With Key Opt Outs Returning in 2021?

Published 03/01/2021, 4:39 PM EST


The New England Patriots have had a difficult 2020 season. The Patriots finished with a 7-9 record and failed to make the Playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

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While the team struggled to transition from quarterback Tom Brady, there were other areas of the field where the Patriots struggled as well.

And a lot of those struggles can be attributed to the fact that the Patriots had 8 of their opting to sit out the season due to COVID-19. With 8 players out of commission, the New England Patriots were the franchise with the most opt outs in the league.

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But there’s some good news for Patriots’ fans. According to recent developments, all of the opt outs are looking to return for the 2021 season.

New England Patriots set to be bolstered by key returnees

Of the eight opt outs, arguably the two missed most by the New England Patriots were safety Patrick Chung and linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

Both players have been integral to the Patriots defense over the years and were thoroughly missed by Bill Belichick’s side in 2020. Linebacker, Hightower, is entering the last year of his current contract. But it’s likely he’ll be around beyond 2021.

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A 3-time Super Bowl champion, Hightower was recently named in the Patriots’ all-decade team for his role in Belichick’s defense over the years.

A versatile playmaker, Hightower can be used in multiple roles. He, however, excelled primarily as an outside linebacker or defensive edge. Effective against the run game and the pass, Hightower will give the Patriots a much-needed boost in defense.

As for Patrick Chung, he is one of the Patriots’ longest serving players. And his combination with Jason McCourty has been crucial to establishing the Patriots’ dynasty over the years.

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Nov 22, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sideline against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The other notable return will be of running back Brandon Bolden. The Patriots struggled in this department last season. His return will be a welcome boost to the Patriots, with the contracts of James White and Rex Burkhead running out.

So with these key returns coming up, do you think the Patriots will have a better outing in 2021?

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Shivayan Roy

555 articles

Shivayan Roy is currently an NFL writer at EssentiallySports. After completing his Masters Diploma in Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism, Roy functioned as a reporter for Goal.com and extensively covered the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

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