Patrick Chung becomes sixth Patriots player to opt out of 2020 season

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Veteran safety Patrick Chung has become the sixth Patriots player to opt out of the 2020 season amid COVID-19 concerns. Chung joins Dont'a Hightower, Marcus Cannon, Brandon Bolden, Najee Toran, and Dan Vitale as players deciding to sit out.

Chung had considered retirement before the season, per NESN's Doug Kyed. He's also expecting a new baby in his family. Hightower had his first child on July 16, citing family and health reasons as taking precedent over football in the current climate.

Chung played the first four seasons of his career with the Patriots, before departing to play the 2012 season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He returned to the Pats in 2013 and has developed into a cornerstone defender in the secondary since then. Chung missed only four games for the Patriots from 2016-19.

Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA: New England Patriots strong safety Patrick Chung raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Patrick Chung becomes the first member of the Patriots secondary to opt out of the 2020 season, and the sixth overall. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Hightower became the latest veteran piece to depart from the Patriots' formerly experienced linebacker corps, after Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins left via free agency. Chung becomes the first member of the defensive backfield to opt out.

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