August 7 (AP):
A total of 66 players have opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the coronavirus pandemic, nearly half of them linemen.
Twenty offensive linemen and 11 on defense opted out before Thursday’s deadline. Players with a medical opt out will receive a $350,000 stipend, while those voluntarily opting out receive $150,000 as an advance against future salaries.
No team has come close to New England in losing players for the upcoming season, which begins Sept. 10 with Houston at Super Bowl champion Kansas City. The Patriots, already minus several stars who left in free agency — including, of course, Tom Brady to Tampa Bay — saw eight opt outs: running back Brandon Bolden, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, tight end Matt LaCosse, wide receiver Marqise Lee, offensive lineman Najee Toran and fullback Dan Vitale. Hightower, Cannon and Chung were key contributors in recent seasons.