As first reported by Adam Schefter on Twitter, Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower has decided to opt out of the 2020 season for the New England Patriots. Also opting out is running back Brandon Bolden.
Other Patriots who are reportedly opting out are right tackle Marcus Cannon, offensive lineman Najee Toran, and fullback Danny Vitale. Cannon is the longest-tenured Patriot, while Hightower is one of the team's most experienced defensive players.
Hightower had his first child on July 16, one of the main factors into his decision to opt out amid COVID-19 concerns. He was set to earn an $8 million salary.
The veteran linebacker explained to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport that family and health are being put before football in the current climate.
A message from #Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower, one of the highest profile players opting out amid the Coronavirus: "Me and my fiancée are just more concerned with the health of our family than football - especially the new addition to our family."Hightower has a 2-week-old son.
Hightower played in 15 games in each of the past two seasons after playing just five in the 2017 season. He has played a major role in the Patriots' playoff success since 2014, most recently logging two sacks, three QB hits, and a pass breakup in Super Bowl LIII against the Rams.