The New England Patriots came pretty close to losing another key player in 2020. Special teams standout and team captain Matthew Slater nearly opted out, but eventually decided to play, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Slater’s decision to play may have convinced others in the Patriots’ locker room to suit up in 2020, according to Mike Garafolo.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 30, 2020
The 34-year-old Slater carries a lot of weight around the team. The eight-time Pro Bowler is one of the best gunners in the NFL and — with Tom Brady leaving in the offseason — the longest tenured member of the Patriots. It’s possible others would have been convinced to opt out if Slater decided he didn’t want to play.
Slater has not addressed his decision. It’s unclear what convinced Slater to play.
Patriots have already lost some key players to opt outs
A number of Patriots players have already opted out of the 2020 NFL season. That list includes running back Brandon Bolden, right tackle Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, Pro Bowl linebacker Dont’a Hightower, offensive lineman Najee Toran and fullback Danny Vitale.
On top of that, the Patriots lost Brady, Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy in free agency, ensuring the team will look much different when it takes the field this season.
Other key players have opted out of the NFL season
The Patriots aren’t the only team to be hit hard by opt outs. A number of key players — including Chicago Bears lineman Eddie Goldman, New York Giants lineman Nate Solder and Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams — will not play in 2020.
Players have until Aug. 4 to opt out of the season.
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