SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The New England Patriots are losing six players for the 2020 season after they decided to opt-out due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Not only are they losing six players, but players who could be instrumental to this team's chances of winning another championship.
In the past 48 hours, the Patriots have had more players opt-out than any team in the NFL.
So far, starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, starting safety Patrick Chung, reserve running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale, guard Najee Toran, and potentially the biggest loss of all, captain and the three-time super bowl champion Dont'a Hightower.
It's important to realize how vital Hightower would have been for the Patriots this season considering New England was already without linebackers Kyle Van Noy, who is now with the Dolphins and Jamie Collins Sr., with the Detroit Lions. Hightower was the glue holding things together in the middle of the defense.
He took to Twitter on Tuesday, thanking all the Patriots fans who have supported him throughout the years and went on saying quote 'This wasn't an easy decision or one I made lightly, but I do feel that it's the best decision for my family at this time.'
Keep in mind, Hightower just had a baby on July 16 and expressed how fatherhood is number one for him.
As for the team moving forward, all rookies, quarterbacks, injured players, and now veterans have been tested for COVID-19. No one will get tested today, and more testing will take place tomorrow and Friday.
Now with training camp underway, and more positions now open, this is the time for rookies to step up prove themselves once they get the green light to take the field.
Western Mass News spoke with fans who are absolutely devastated, and some surprised to see the increasing number of Patriots players opting out in such a short span of time.
Keep in mind, from a football standpoint, this is an even bigger loss with now six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and teammate Rob Gronkowski gone.
"It's all about safety, and these guys aren't just players that we just watch and enjoy, they have families as well. So you know, what's best for them and if that involves them leaving for health reasons and stuff like that, we have to live with it," said local Patriots fan Mateus Cezario.