Dont’a Hightower opts out of playing in 2020

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A fourth member of the Patriots is opting out of playing the 2020 season and this one will leave a big hole in their defense.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that linebacker Dont'a Hightower will not be suiting up this year. He joins tackle Marcus Cannon, fullback Danny Vitale and guard Najee Toran as Patriots players who have opted not to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hightower, who became a father for the first time this month, was set to make a base salary of $8 million this season. He will receive a $150,000 stipend and his contract will toll to the 2021 season.

It’s a big loss for the Patriots, who already saw Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins depart as free agents this offseason. Hightower had 71 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown for New England last season. Brandon Copeland, Ja'whaun Bentley, Shilique Calhoun, Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings are among the linebackers still on hand for the Patriots.

67 responses to “Dont’a Hightower opts out of playing in 2020

  1. All the players will eventually opt out, because there will be no season. There are about 150+ staff and players in the day to day operations of an NFL team. Just look what happened with the Marlins. In a non contact sport. This will blow up in Roger’s face.

  2. All players who choose not to work should not receive a cent.
    Just like normal working class people.

  3. Protecting his family is far more important than playing health-roulette with ‘rona. Despite how obvious it should be, I commend him for making the tough decision.

  4. Geez! As a country we are not prepared to play football. If baseball that is naturally a socially-distant sport and smaller rosters can’t keep their players and staff safe from disease, what hope does the NFL realistically have?
    I am glad that Dont’a had the freedom to opt out of risking his health. Football is already dangerous enough without a virus. Now choosing to play risks the wives and children of the players.
    Hightower is a veteran star that sounds like has been smart enough to put some money in the bank and can sit this one out. But he is not your typical player that bulks up the rosters.
    Looks like we are moving full steam ahead with the season. This is crazy.

  5. Damn that’s a big loss. But you gotta respect anyone, especially a new father, for being willing to forgo that kinda cash. Props to him. I’m very pessimistic about this season. In a normal year this upcoming season had a TON of intrigue for neutral fans. I personally wanted to see how BB would fair without Brady and vice versa. How would the Niners rebound? Would the Chiefs steamroll the AFC or could Lamar turn it around in the playoffs. The NFC is stacked with idk 8-10 teams who might think they can make the super bowl after seeing San Fran’s turnaround last year

  6. Can’t blame him (or any of them). Especially after what we’ve just seen happen in baseball.

  7. Him and Cannon are huge losses for the Patriots. It is starting to look like the season is in jeopardy.

  8. Yep. Just wait till a big name QB or 3 opts out.

    There won’t be a season folks. I’ve accepted it.

  9. Players’ choice. Good for him for taking it. As a football fan though sure seems like the Fates are lining up to make the “”legendary” (HAHAHAHA) Pats/Bucs “competition” less newsworthy.

    I have always said it is Bill, not Brady who is great. Brady is very good, but he would not have succeeded without BBs defenses, nor in that offensive scheme. You can see that because just about every other QB thrived in the same – then sucked elsewhere.

    If we’re playing with scrubs, that question will never be answered. Which may be exactly what Pats fans want – to keep living in a world of their own creation. (aka Fantasy Island)

  10. Just curious, does his salary no longer count toward this years cap? And could a player who opts out be cut? Not advocating for that at all, but I can see a scenario where an aging veteran with a high salary who opts out gets cut.

  11. THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES TOWER!! Your bench press of Okung to tackle Lynch is forever one of the unheralded plays of this decade for us! Seeing as this was his final year on his contract, injury history, and 10-12 years of the saban/belichick style, i think his time in foborough is over. Maybe a deal to go to his hometown Titans, but i think he is done in foxborough

  12. These opt outs will be non-news when NFL fails to get through the season. I don’t see them getting through a single week without a massive outbreak.

  13. Though I dont agree with these players sitting, it will be interesting to see how many high profile players opt out …

    If any big name QBs decide to do it, there wont be a season … but we will see

  14. Pat’s still have an excellent defense but this definitely hurts.

    Nothing but respect though for a guy taking a 98% pay cut to keep his family safe.

  15. NFL will need to expand the game day active 53 to get through whatever sort of season they are planning/wind up with. May work out in favor of the UDFA crowd who did not get a preseason to show their stuff.

  16. objectivefbfan says:
    July 28, 2020 at 8:26 am
    Players’ choice. Good for him for taking it. As a football fan though sure seems like the Fates are lining up to make the “”legendary” (HAHAHAHA) Pats/Bucs “competition” less newsworthy.

    I have always said it is Bill, not Brady who is great. Brady is very good, but he would not have succeeded without BBs defenses, nor in that offensive scheme. You can see that because just about every other QB thrived in the same – then sucked elsewhere.
    ——
    Garoppolo made a Super Bowl. Cassel made a pro bowl. Wouldn’t say those guys sucked elsewhere.

    As for Brady if and when when the season is cancelled he will be 44 by the time meaningful football starts again. Should be interesting to see where he’s at.

  17. You can see that because just about every other QB thrived in the same – then sucked elsewhere.

    Who is “every other QB”?
    You had one that played a season Matt Cassel
    He had a decent season in NE then 2 years later had about the same success if not a little better in KC (they made the playoffs)
    And he did it there without the magical BB “system”

  18. They should not make the same money next year though. They are one year older with one year of not playing. Maybe 75% of this year’s salary gets deferred to next season, but not the whole thing.

  19. Gotta love the average joe, working an 8-5, comparing himself to an NFL players

    ————————————-

    collectordude says:
    July 28, 2020 at 8:08 am
    All players who choose not to work should not receive a cent.
    Just like normal working class people.

  20. If we’re playing with scrubs, that question will never be answered. Which may be exactly what Pats fans want – to keep living in a world of their own creation. (aka Fantasy Island)


    Brady is universally considered the GOAT,
    So it not just “pats fans”
    Seems the only one living on fantasy island is you.

    BB in NE WITHOUT TB as his starting QB 19-19 ZERO playoff wins

  21. His decision…his choice, as a New Father, I can give him the space.

    But as a fan, it will not help the team… for sure.

  22. Such a tough call. Seriously. You feel obligated to your team mates, your game check. But then, you have your family. Wife, kids. Folks, Covid has us by the balls.

  23. Looks like The Patriots salary cap space just keeps going up! What’s it now? $130m? LOL

  24. BB lost the team when he put his ego ahead of the team’s best interest by benching Malcom Butler in the SB. The chickens are coming home to roost.

  25. @navyvandal

    Hes still under contract next year, all opting out does is move this year in your contract to next year.

  26. collectordude says:
    July 28, 2020 at 8:08 am
    All players who choose not to work should not receive a cent.
    Just like normal working class people.
    ————-

    Why not? That is what the union and the league agreed to.

    As for normal, working class people, many are currently drawing unemployment if out of work (assuming they were previously employed, and actually reported all of their income the last few years). There are likely some who are missing out, including some who are self employed and/or some small business owners. And, the rules for unemployment seem to vary widely by state, so people are worse in some states. But, many of the unemployed are getting something coming in, at least until McConnell succeeds in cutting that off from the hard working Americans.

  27. GoodellMustGo says:
    July 28, 2020 at 8:57 am

    Garoppolo made a Super Bowl. Cassel made a pro bowl. Wouldn’t say those guys sucked elsewhere.

    ********************************************************************************

    Cassel and Jimmy G. — not the best examples to make that argument.

    Cassel had one good season in KC and then did essentially nothing. Even in that Pro Bowl year, he was an alternate. Who else has been an alternate Pro Bowl QB around the same time? All-time greats like David Garrard (JAX ’09), Derek Anderson (CLE ’07), Jake Plummer (’05). Back then, and in the right year, a career backup or journeyman could get in as an alternate if enough guys dropped out ahead of him and he lucked out otherwise. Cassel was clearly an example of that.

    Re: Garoppolo, didn’t exactly have to carry that 49ers team — they had the 2nd best rushing game in the NFL and one of the top defenses in the league (arguably the best defense in the NFC). Verdict’s still out on him.

  28. savethebs says:
    July 28, 2020 at 8:33 am
    Just curious, does his salary no longer count toward this years cap? And could a player who opts out be cut? Not advocating for that at all, but I can see a scenario where an aging veteran with a high salary who opts out gets cut.
    ———–
    I am not sure how it counts against the cap, but would think it would not count this year. As far as cutting him, they could do that, but they would then just owe him that money (and the cap hit) next season, since his contract tolls to next season. So, they wouldn’t save any money in the long run by cutting him.

  29. Cassel and Jimmy G. — not the best examples to make that argument.

    Cassel had one good season in KC and then did essentially nothing. Even in that Pro Bowl year, he was an alternate. Who else has been an alternate Pro Bowl QB around the same time? All-time greats like David Garrard (JAX ’09), Derek Anderson (CLE ’07), Jake Plummer (’05). Back then, and in the right year, a career backup or journeyman could get in as an alternate if enough guys dropped out ahead of him and he lucked out otherwise. Cassel was clearly an example of that.

    Re: Garoppolo, didn’t exactly have to carry that 49ers team — they had the 2nd best rushing game in the NFL and one of the top defenses in the league (arguably the best defense in the NFC). Verdict’s still out on him.

    —-
    I didn’t say they were all pros. OP said they sucked away from the Patriots. Not true.

  30. collectordude says:
    July 28, 2020 at 8:08 am
    All players who choose not to work should not receive a cent.
    Just like normal working class people.

    ——————————————————————

    Why does anyone care if the players get paid? Normal working class people are in an entirely different situation. What does it matter to you? Of all the injustice and inequity in the world, THIS is the battle you’re choosing?

    I don’t really care if they get paid or don’t – it depends on their contracts and how the NFL chooses to handle it. If they DO get paid, good for them. It has no impact on me and I’m not delusional enough to get in a huff about it, as though it has anything to do with my life at all.

  31. savethebs says:
    July 28, 2020 at 8:33 am
    Just curious, does his salary no longer count toward this years cap? And could a player who opts out be cut? Not advocating for that at all, but I can see a scenario where an aging veteran with a high salary who opts out gets cut.

    ===========

    A player can be cut at any time but the GM must consider how it affects the cap to see if it makes sense. As contracts toll for next season it makes no sense to cut anyone. The cap number is reduced for this year as they will only receive a stipend of $150,000 or $300,000+ if it’s for medical reasons like Marcus Cannon. That Past so far this year have freed up around $26 million of cap space with the players who have opted out. So they can go out and get players on the market but next year those opted out players come back. The NFL is fooling themselves if they think they will have a season.

  32. BB in NE WITHOUT TB as his starting QB 19-19 ZERO playoff wins

    ____

    13 of those losses in came in his first 18 games as coach of the Patriots with Bledsoe as the QB in 2000-2001.

    So that would mean that since 2002, hes been 14-6 as a HC without Brady as his starting QB. Thats pretty good.

  33. cancerman2020 says:
    July 28, 2020 at 9:52 am
    BB in NE WITHOUT TB as his starting QB 19-19 ZERO playoff wins

    ____

    13 of those losses in came in his first 18 games as coach of the Patriots with Bledsoe as the QB in 2000-2001.

    So that would mean that since 2002, hes been 14-6 as a HC without Brady as his starting QB. Thats pretty good.

    Yeah that’s great but you have to look at all of it not ignore some of it
    So 14-6 is good But no playoff appearances no playoff wins.

    Look BB is possibly the greatest coach of all time. I’m not disputing that
    But it does t matter how great the coach is if the players don’t play well and take the coaching. BB will tell you “coaches coach, players play”

    Take it a step further and look at his entire head coaching career
    Below 500 win % 1-1 in the playoffs without TB
    With TB , you know what it is.

  34. cancerman2020 says:
    July 28, 2020 at 9:52 am
    BB in NE WITHOUT TB as his starting QB 19-19 ZERO playoff wins

    ____

    13 of those losses in came in his first 18 games as coach of the Patriots with Bledsoe as the QB in 2000-2001.

    So that would mean that since 2002, hes been 14-6 as a HC without Brady as his starting QB. Thats pretty good.

    1 0 Rate This

    ———————–

    They like to include the QBs NOT of his choosing. They don’t seem to get there is a difference when a coach has a good GM, or HIMSELF, as the person selecting the players, knowing what works and what doesn’t.

    This is like saying someone isn’t great at what they do, specifically because they have a control freak boss and work for a poorly run company.

    These are the deductions people with low IQs make, and people are supremely jealous of the Pats and their fans.

    When BB drafts and grooms a QB, the results are glorious. It’s just that simple.

  35. gotitan says:
    July 28, 2020 at 8:46 am
    Seems things are changing quite a bit up there. Sounds good!

    12 17 Rate This

    ——————-

    Prepare to be SEVERELY disappointed in 2021 after no season in 2020. lol

    Some of you will never get it as the Titans sink into cap hell with Jurell Casey in Denver over it. lol

  36. SWFLPC.INC says:
    July 28, 2020 at 9:22 am
    BB lost the team when he put his ego ahead of the team’s best interest by benching Malcom Butler in the SB. The chickens are coming home to roost.

    ———–

    True. I’m sure you remember how lost they looked winning the superbowl one year later.

  37. For everyone saying the season will be canceled….not a chance. NFL does not want to give up billions of dollars in TV revenue. The whole league can opt out and replacements will be brought in. Unless players start dying from covid the season will happen. Too much money involved for it not to happen. For every Hightower and Cannon who are giving up millions for safety concerns there are hundreds waiting to suit up for a tenth of their salaries.

  38. Nobody cares until a fantasy relevant player opts out. So far a Linebacker and (the Chiefs) Guard are the only good players to opt-out, and nobody watches for those positions anyway, so not a big loss to football fans

  39. Yeah that’s great but you have to look at all of it not ignore some of it
    So 14-6 is good But no playoff appearances no playoff wins.

    ___

    There only were 2 times that he could have taken the Pats to the playoffs when Brady wasnt the starting QB. In 2000, the first year he was the coach of the Pats and then in 2008, when they went 11-5 but didnt make the playoffs.

    Tell me, how many coaches take over a team and go to the playoffs in their first year? Did Lombardi? Did Landry? Did Walsh? Did Noll? None of them did it. And honestly, it doesnt happen often at all.

    Sometimes you have to look deeper than just the numbers and think a little

    The re

  40. tb12gronk87 says:
    July 28, 2020 at 10:28 am
    For everyone saying the season will be canceled….not a chance.

    —–

    I agree, the season will not be cancelled; but it will also not be sustainable.

    References:
    Miami Marlins Baseball Club

  41. cancerman2020 says:
    July 28, 2020 at 9:52 am
    BB in NE WITHOUT TB as his starting QB 19-19 ZERO playoff wins
    ————————————————————-
    And they have only missed the playoffs once. and they were 11-5.
    So he’s had zero playoff GAMES without Brady.

  42. I think the Patriots will have a rough year. No money. Players opting out. First year without Brady and Scar. And did you see that schedule? I see a lot of close losses.

    But next year they’ll get the players back and well rested and have the 3rd or 4th ranked pot of gold to spend.

  43. pftcensorsrliberalpukes says:
    July 28, 2020 at 11:16 am
    cancerman2020 says:
    July 28, 2020 at 9:52 am
    BB in NE WITHOUT TB as his starting QB 19-19 ZERO playoff wins
    ————————————————————-
    And they have only missed the playoffs once. and they were 11-5.
    So he’s had zero playoff GAMES without Brady.
    ————————————————————–
    Well in 1994 he made the playoffs in Cleveland…..IN CLEVELAND!

  44. But that shouldn’t matter right, BB should be able to just plug in anyone and win a ring, and he’s got Cam Newton now who will be so much better than that system QB Brady, he can just go out and win rings with Cam and nobodies right?! Right guys!? /s

  45. @cancerman2020 says:,

    I know. That was a Houdini act in itself considering how bad of an owner Modell was and how you had to build a team back then nearly exclusively through the draft. Patriots are still going to go 11-5 minimum. None of those players who opted out are anything special athletically. Give someone else that roster, and I doubt they go 5-11. But Belichick, he just sees the game in 3-D. People will learn. This is the same person responsible for a Parcells Jet team QBed by Ray Lucas whose defense carried them after Testaverde got hurt in week one going 8-8.

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