New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower is the fourth player Patriots player to opt out for the 2020 NFL season.
Hightower's decision to opt out was reported by ESPN insider Adam Schefter.
Hightower now has a two-week-old son, which is a part of the reason why he chose to opt out.
“Me and my fiancée are just more concerned with the health of our family than football — especially the new addition to our family,” he told NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.
Other players form New England to opt out were fullback Dan Vitale, starting right tackle Marcus Cannon and offensive guard Najee Toran.
Hightower deciding to sit out the upcoming season is a big blow to the Patriots defense. The linebacking corps was already one of the biggest question marks on the team heading into the season, so not having Hightower makes the positional grouping the No. 1 weakness on the defense by far.
Per NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, Hightower’s opt out was considered “voluntary,” which means he is eligible for a $150,000 salary advance.