NFL Moves Up Opt-Out Deadline; Will More Patriots Players Sit Out?

Sam Minton

Lately, the main point of contention between the NFL and NFLPA has been the opt-out deadline for players. 

On Sunday, Devin McCourty didn't hold back his frustration. He ripped into the league for attempting to move the opt-out date, calling it "terrible" and "B.S."

McCourty won't be happy about the latest news coming from ESPN's Adam Schefter. The NFL is officially moving the opt-out deadline to Thursday at 4 p.m.

This could have an interesting fallout for the six-time Super Bowl champions. They have had the most players opt out so far, with eight Patriots deciding to sit out the 2020 season. These weren't just players on the edge of the roster. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, tight end Matt LaCosse and right tackle Marcus Cannon have large roles with the team but now aren't going to play. Guard Najee Toran, running back Brandon Bolden, wide receiver Marqise Lee, and fullback Dan Vitale have also decided to opt out, though their roles in 2020 weren't expected to be large. 

At this point, it wouldn't be surprising to see more Patriots opt-out. It's even possible that Devin and Jason McCourty opt out. They have been very vocal on their podcast "Double Coverage" about their concerns in trusting fellow players and just playing football in the current environment that we are living in.

It appears that the NFL is looking to force the player's hand. By moving up the opt-out date they must be hoping that fewer players will opt out.

The problem with this could be that the opposite effect happens. Since players aren't really getting a chance to see what the conditions are like at the facilities they might opt out just to be safe. That could be catastrophic for the league as they would be playing with a watered-down product.

However, there is a tiny but of leeway for some players that would like to opt out. There are two instances in which a player can opt out after the 4 p.m. deadline on Thursday: 1) If a player is newly diagnosed with a high-risk condition 2) If a player's family member dies, is hospitalized or otherwise moves to a medical facility because of COVID-19 or a related condition (per NFL Media's Tom Pelissero). 

The only part of the opt outs that has helped New England is the team's newfound cap space. With over $35 million to spend because of the money re-collected from the player's that opted out, the Patriots can bring in some reinforcements. 

Jadeveon Clowney is still available and so is Everson Griffen. These players would be great additions to the pass rush which will need to be great once again in 2020. On the offensive side of the ball, veteran tight end Delanie Walker is a rumored target of the Patriots, who are in need of tight end after LaCosse opted out. New England drafted two tight ends in this year's draft, but it would be nice to have a veteran presence on the roster. Having a veteran like Walker would allow for Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene to have a player they can model their game after.

Thursday will be an interesting day to watch for football fans. Will more Patriots opt out, or is the roster relatively set in stone? All the football world can do is wait and see. 

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