Add Marqise Lee to the growing list of players opting out of the New England Patriots’ season.
The 28-year-old veteran receiver, who signed a one-year deal with the team in the offseason, becomes the seventh Patriot to choose to sit the year out. He became a father in February and cited his daughter Alia as the impetus for his decision.
“This is a big sit-down process I had, with me and my significant other, as far as family goes. The risk factor in which we believe that’s going out there, it just wasn’t worth it in a sense. Just too many unknowns,” Lee told ESPN. “We knew New England, honestly, had a great system in place. But I told coach [Bill Belichick], at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be doing him justice going out there because I wouldn’t be able to give him my all knowing my family was back at the house worrying about their situation.”
Lee reiterated he plans to return in 2021, but joins linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, tackle Marcus Cannon, running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale and practice squad offensive lineman Najee Toran in opting out of the 2020 season.
“There are a lot of other implications that deal with this issue too,” he said. “Some of my [extended] family members are sick and things like that. At the end of the day, we weren’t trying to close off family members for the year. We’re just trying to find the safest way for the family, and this is it.”
The high number of New England players choosing not to play has driven some conspiracy theories about the team potentially tanking for a top draft pick — Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence is the 2021 draft’s big prize — though Chung quickly put those to rest.
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