The New England Patriots lost too many players in 2020. First, Tom Brady left the team to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Several other players left the Patriots in free agency. Things got worse later in the year. Too many players opted-out of the regular season due to COVID-19 concerns. Eight players missed the season due to coronavirus concerns. Most of them play on the defensive side of the ball. Veterans Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung left big holes in the Patriots defense.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Patriots will return their veterans and more from the opt-out list in 2021. Losing Chung and Hightower was a big blow for the Patriots. Starting offensive tackle Marcus Cannon missed 2020, too. He didn’t play in 2020, but will play in 2021. Cannon hasn’t played a game since the 2019 season. According to reports, all the returners are in great physical shape.
TB12 left the team and veteran quarterback stepped under center. Coronavirus opt-outs were an afterthought for critics of the Patriots’ failed season.
Patriots defense looks strong heading into 2021
The defense was never a problem. NFL experts weren’t too worried about defensive players. The team missed two veteran leaders but the defensive unit ranked No. 7 in the NFL total yards allowed (5,660). Stats show the offense ranks among the league’s lowest in total yards gained (5,236).
Hightower and Chung combined for 122 tackles in 2019. In his eighth year, Hightower earned his second Pro Bowl selection.
The offense is still an issue, but the Patriots defense looks really strong. Head coach Bill Belichick is building strong defenses, and this will be the case in 2021. Patriots fans are more than excited about the season and we can’t wait to see what happens next year.
Head coach Belichick has several important decisions to make. He needs to find the next franchise quarterback. Newton may stay in New England, but he may also leave the team in free agency. The Patriots have been linked with several top names, including Deshaun Watson and a few others.