Patriots wide receiver Marqise Lee has decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season, as first reported by Jim McBride of the Boston Globe.
Lee recently became a father in February. He told ESPN’s Mike Reiss: “We just feel like it wasn’t smart for us to go out and play this year.”
The former Jaguars wideout becomes the seventh Patriot to opt out amid COVID-19 concerns. He joins linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, right tackle Marcus Cannon, running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale, and offensive lineman Najee Toran.
Per Miguel Benzan of the Boston Sports Journal, the Patriots’ salary cap number increases to $25,420,302 after the opt-out. Benzan notes that it will increase by another $9 million if changes to the CBA push 2020 signing bonus prorations to the 2021 season.
Here’s a look at the Patriots wide receiver depth chart after Lee opted out:
The Pats recently released Hastings, an undrafted rookie out of Auburn, to get their roster down to 80 players. The growing number of opt-outs reopened a roster spot for Hastings, whom the Patriots quickly re-signed along with undrafted quarterback Brian Lewerke out of Michigan State.
Lee’s decision to opt out opened up an opportunity for Byrd and others to compete for an open roster spot.