The New England Patriots have one player so far that has opted out for the 2020 season. That player is fullback Dan Vitale.
Agent Leigh Steinberg shared the news with USA Today's Jarrett Bell on Monday.
Agent Leigh Steinberg confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that Vitale, a fifth-year veteran who joined the Patriots as a free agent this year, is taking the leave of absence option afforded NFL players due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vitale and his wife, Caley, are parents to a newborn baby.
Minutes later it was also reported that interior offensive lineman Najee Toran also opted out, according to the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride.
Vitale was entering camp as a competitor for the starting fullback job in New England now that James Develin had retired. But since Vitale is opting out for the 2020 season, Jakob Johnson -- who is entering his second season in the NFL as part of the league's International Pathway Program -- will seemingly win the starting fullback job, unless the team opts to bring someone else in to compete with him during training camp. Dalton Keene, a tight end the Patriots selected in the third round this year, could also take on added snaps as a blocker out of the backfield.
NFL players have until Aug. 3 to opt out of the 2020 season. Players at high risk of complications due to the coronavirus can opt out for for the season and earn $350,000 and an accrued season towards free agency. That includes individuals with autoimmune disorders, chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes, heart issues, etc. Non-risk players can also opt out for the season and earn $150,000 but do not accrue a season. Vitale seems to fall under the latter category.