The New England Patriots roster is rapidly shrinking before training camp begins. With players having the option to opt-out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns, five members of the roster have announced they will be taking that option.
Most notably, star linebacker Dont’a Hightower will sit out this season which leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the Patriots defense.
Other Patriots players who will be opting out of their contracts for 2020 are starting offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, fullback Danny Vitale and reserve offensive lineman Najee Toran.
According to an agreement approved by both the league and the NFL Players Association, players considered high risk for COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season if they choose to opt out. Players without risk can earn $150,000 for opting out.
Hightower is a three-time Super Bowl champion and team captain who was set to make $8 million in what would have been his ninth season with the team.
The coronavirus outbreak has led to the cancellation or postponing of many large events including the NCAA Tournament, Coachella, SXSW, the Winter X Games, Stagecoach, Ultra Music Festival in Miami, and more. The NBA, NHL, and MLS temporarily suspended their seasons.
The coronavirus mainly comes from animals and a majority of those who were infected early either worked at or frequently visited the Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, according to The Guardian. The virus is similar to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers).
The Wuhan coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission.” That means an infected person can pass the virus by sneezing or coughing on another person as well as by direct contact.
While a majority of the cases have been detected in the United States and China — with more than 4.3 million confirmed cases and 149,000 deaths in the United States — it has now reached many countries around the world. It has also been confirmed in Italy, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and many other eastern countries.