The New England Patriots have had six players opt out of the 2020 season already. Coach Bill Belichick said Friday that each one of those men made an individual decision, and he respects each choice.
"I respect all of them," Belichick told reporters. "I respect all the players on our team. We all have to make decisions. And I talked to those guys, and they explained their situations. They had to make the decision that was best for them, and I totally respect and support it 100 percent."
The Pats' six opt-outs include star linebacker Dont'a Hightower, starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, fullback Danny Vitale, guard Najee Toran and running back Brandon Bolden.
With at least a week -- and likely longer -- before the opt-out deadline, Belichick said he's not sure if others from his squad will also skip the season.
"I think everybody's got to make their own individual decisions on that, and they have to weigh their own situation," he said. "Each one of us is unique and we all have different lives, situations, families, environments, and so forth and so on. So, there is no two situations that are the same. Everybody will have to make their own decision on that.
"My crystal ball is kind of cloudy right now, so I have no idea of what will happen along those lines. I think everybody in the league, every team in the league, every player, every coach, everybody in the league is involved in that to some degree. So we'll just have to see how it turns out."
The Pats are already down a significant amount of talent due to opt-outs. Any additional players deciding not to play would further hinder New England's ability to win another division title, this time sans Tom Brady. If there is a coach up to the task, however, it's Belichick.