Hightower adds to Pa­tri­ots’ opt-out list

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS -

The Pa­tri­ots al­ready were go­ing to have a com­pletely dif­fer­ent look after an off­sea­son that saw Tom Brady and sev­eral key de­fen­sive play­ers leave as free agents.

Now the coro­n­avirus pan­demic has added com­pli­ca­tions to the team’s ef­forts to re­build its ros­ter. Line­backer Dont’a Hightower said Tues­day that he’s opt­ing out of the sea­son, high­light­ing a list of sev­eral Pa­tri­ots who won’t play.

A per­son fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion told the As­so­ci­ated Press that safety Pa­trick Chung also opted out. They join tackle Mar­cus Can­non, run­ning back Brandon Bolden and full­back Danny Vi­tale, who were listed on the league’s of­fi­cial opt-out list Tues­day. ESPN re­ported that prac­tice-squad guard Na­jee To­ran also de­cided not to play.

Hightower’s de­ci­sion was made out of con­cern for the health of his fi­ancée and child, who was born ear­lier this month. Can­non is a can­cer survivor, hav­ing been di­ag­nosed with NonHodgkin lym­phoma dur­ing his fi­nal sea­son at Texas Chris­tian in 2011.

Cook re­ports to Vik­ings; Pierce opts out

Vik­ings run­ning back Dalvin Cook re­ported to train­ing camp on time, mean­ing he will not lose credit for the 2020 sea­son, which would have made him a re­stricted free agent in 2021 in­stead of an un­re­stricted free agent. Cook’s camp had an­nounced in June that he would hold out from all team ac­tiv­i­ties un­til he re­ceives a con­tract ex­ten­sion as he en­ters the fi­nal year of his rookie con­tract.

Mean­while, Vik­ings de­fen­sive line­man Michael Pierce is opt­ing out of the sea­son be­cause of res­pi­ra­tory con­cerns dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. Pierce signed a three-year, $27 mil­lion con­tract in March and was ex­pected to re­place Lin­val Joseph at nose tackle.

Pack­ers WR Funchess won’t play

Pack­ers wide re­ceiver Devin Funchess is opt­ing out of the sea­son, call­ing it one of the most dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions he has ever made. His choice leaves the team without its only ma­jor off­sea­son ad­di­tion to their re­ceiv­ing group, one year after Da­vante Adams was the only Packer with at least 50 catches and 500 yards re­ceiv­ing.

Funchess, who an­nounced his de­ci­sion on In­sta­gram, noted that some of his clos­est rel­a­tives “have ex­pe­ri­enced the life-threat­en­ing im­pact of COVID-19 first hand.”

Re­ports: Bosa now high­est-paid de­fender

De­fen­sive end Joey Bosa and the Charg­ers re­port­edly agreed to a five-year, $135 mil­lion con­tract, a record for an NFL de­fen­sive player, eclips­ing the five-year, $125 mil­lion deal that de­fen­sive end Myles Gar­rett signed with the Browns less than two weeks ago.

No. 1 over­all draft pick Joe Bur­row and the Ben­gals reached an agree­ment in prin­ci­ple on a $36.1 mil­lion con­tract, pend­ing a phys­i­cal, which is sched­uled for Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to the USA To­day Net­work.

Ma­homes now part-owner of Roy­als

Su­per Bowl MVP Pa­trick Ma­homes is join­ing the Roy­als’ own­er­ship group. Ma­homes, the star quar­ter­back who led the Chiefs to the NFL ti­tle last sea­son, was once a base­ball prospect who was drafted by the Tigers in 2014. His fa­ther, Pat, pitched in more than 300 big-league games, mostly as a re­liever.

JEFF HAYNES/AP

Line­backer Dont’a Hightower is con­cerned for the health of his fi­ancée and new­born.

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