With the Patriots 4-6 on the year, some of the attention has shifted towards 2021 and what the team will look like then.
The biggest question is at quarterback and then how will some of the younger players be a year from now after getting signifiant playing time in 2020.
What is overlooked and not discussed all that much is the Patriots had a number of opt out and those players could potentially return to the team next year.
Those players are: offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, tight end Matt LaCosse, running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Dan Vitale, wide receiver Marqise Lee and offensive lineman Najee Toran.
Obviously, Chung, Hightower and Cannon are the biggest and all three are up there in terms of age. Chung will be 34 next year, Cannon 33 and Hightower 31.
Chung told the Boston Globe last week he’s been staying busy his year, including starting a real estate business. While he certainly could still return, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he didn’t, either.
The same goes for Cannon and Hightower, both of whom reportedly have considered retirement in recent years.
Kyle Dugger and Michael Onwenu ave been solid replacements for Chung and Cannon, but the team has really struggled to replace Hightower in the middle of the defense. A lot was put on the plate of Ja’Whaun Bentley and at times it has seemed over whelming for the third-year player.
LaCosse, Bolden, Vitale, Lee and to a degree Toran all could certainly help problem areas from this year.
Tight end obviously has been a black hole, Jakob Johnson has been OK at fullback but could be upgraded, another veteran at wide receiver would have helped and then running back could always use depth, especially one that has special teams value.
Yes, having any of these players return would be a good thing and give depth to their respective positions, but it’s not like the team shouldn’t address the needs because of it.
The Patriots had the most opt outs of any team this year and having a few of them potentially return in 2021 would be a good thing, but definitely should not be something the team focuses on.