Patriots Notes: Hightower, Chung, Cannon

The Patriots had eight players opt out of the 2020 campaign, the most in the NFL. The organization will naturally welcome back a handful of these players, but Jeff Howe of The Athletic writes that others may have already played their final game in a Patriots uniform.

For keepers, Dont’a Hightower seems like a guarantee to come back. Besides the two-time Pro Bowler’s on-field production, the Patriots would save only $9.95MM by releasing the 30-year-old; the organization wouldn’t be able to sign a player of Hightower’s caliber with that kind of money. It’s a similar sentiment for safety Patrick Chung. The team would only save $1MM by cutting the veteran, and Chung could still have a role on defense alongside the likes of Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips.

As for lesser names, Howe opines that running back/special teams ace Brandon Bolden will likely be back in 2021. The team would save $1.5MM by cutting the 31-year-old, but the organization clearly values his special teams ability. Elsewhere, fullback Danny Vitale ($1.2MM savings) will compete with Jakob Johnson for the starting gig, while tight end Matt LaCosse ($1.3MM) will compete for the third tight end spot. Both of those players’ roster spots are dependent on the camp competition.

One name that could be on his way out of New England is Marcus Cannon. The team could save $7MM by cutting the veteran, who already showed signs of decline in 2018 and 2019. The organization also appears to have their long-term answer at right tackle in Michael Onwenu. On the flip side, Onwenu could also be an option at left guard, which could carve a path to a roster spot for Cannon. Either way, Howe believes the Patriots will ask Cannon to take a pay cut.

Two other names that are probably long shots to stick around: wideout Marqise Lee ($687K savings) and offensive lineman Najee Toran ($780K). Howe says Lee could stick around as a reclamation project, but the reporter is confident Toran probably won’t make the team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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12 comments on “Patriots Notes: Hightower, Chung, Cannon

  1. jacobsigel1025

    Onwenu will be staying at guard. Wynn has played well at tackle, but having two undersized linemen at the tackle positions isn’t very ideal. If Onwenu played this well during his ROOKIE season, why would you even consider moving his position to tackle?

  2. arty!

    Basically, the pats would still have been 7-9 w/ those players then? Enjoy ’21 pats fans!

    • rkmarx

      Why do you say that? Is there a reason you think that, or just being an ignorant hater?

      • I Beg To Differ

        They dont have a QB.

        Stidham was suppose to be the second coming of Brady and well he wasn’t lmao.

        Bill will get Garapollo or Brissett back and Pat’s finish 4th if Jets acquire Watson.

        3rd if Dolphins or someone else acquire Watson.

        Plus they’re set to lose Gilmore.

    • PatsFanBiff

      We were 7-9 because we didn’t had a competent QB. Cam was absolutely horrible. People love to place the blame on the lack of household name receivers, yet that doesn’t excuse how his throws were overthrown, underthrown, behind, in the dirt 5 yds before the receiver, etc. His decision making was atrotious.

      People also love to clamor about how “He kept the Pats in the game”. Uh, no. The defense kept the Pats in the game because Cam couldn’t produce any points.

      2021 will be VASTLY different. More cap space, highly likely we will have an average QB at worst. That will be enough to have a winning season, likely a playoff berth

  3. GMB 883

    Not if the Patriots trade Joe Thuney and move Onwenu to LG. Then Canon plays RT. Thuney can be franchised again and then traded. Pats could probably get a 3rd round pick. Maybe a 2nd rounder if it’s a team that’s willing to give Thuney a big 4/5 year contract. Maybe the Jets, they wanted him last year. Could be a bunch of teams (Dallas maybe) as Thuney is a 2/5 top Offensive lineman in the game.

  4. Simmons>Russ

    Pats with those guys back have a good defence and they do have a decent o line but they still have pretty simple clear issues. WR QB and RB. Can’t win games by simply great defence you have to have some offence.

  5. MileHighFan

    I haven’t seen anything about Opt-out rules for 2021, so who is to say that some of these people won’t decide to Opt-out again?

    It might also be a bit premature to think that the Opt-out players will be performing at their previous levels, as a year of being out of football might effect both their physical and mental preparedness.

  6. CoachWe

    I see Chung sticking around, but I am not sure Hightower remains in the fold. Love the guy, but the writer of this article said they cannot sign someone else with else under the $10 mill price tag. I disagree. With a decreasing cap, the Pats will have many options as teams scramble to dump players. BTW, Lacoss is gone.

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