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Patriots key opt-outs from 2020 will return for the 2021 season

New England will get some reinforcements back in 2021.

 Patrick Chung #23 of the New England Patriots keeps Donte Moncrief #11 of the Pittsburgh Steelers from making a fourth quarter reception as Dont’a Hightower #54 and Jonathan Jones #31celebrate during the second quarter of the NFL game at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2019 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

The New England Patriots took a big hit last offseason when multiple starting players opted out due to COVID-19. They ended up with the most opt outs, including RB Brandon Bolden, OT Marcus Cannon, S Patrick Chung, LB Dont’a Hightower, WR Marqise Lee, OG Najee Toran, FB Danny Vitale, and TE Matt LaCosse. Of those eight players, Hightower, Cannon and Chung were the biggest losses and all three are set to return in 2021, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

According to Rapoport, all three of these players are in good shape and ready to get to work. The Patriots are still going to be in trouble overall, as they are severely limited on the offensive side of the ball and these reinforcements will end up helping the defense more than the offense.

Bill Belichick and company will be ecstatic to get these guys back, but their trouble is deep and it comes from a lack of quarterback. Replacing Cam Newton and finding some worthwhile receivers is going to be needed if they are going to score any points.