Patriots safety Devin McCourty is not happy about the NFL’s intention to move up the opt-out deadline for the upcoming season.
“I think it’s an absolute joke the NFL is changing the opt-out period, mainly because they don’t want to continue to see guys opt out,” McCourty said Sunday afternoon via a WebEx conference. “I’m sure they’re shocked about how many guys have opted out.”
Eight Patriots, including linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung, have already elected to skip the 2020 season. The deadline to opt out, according to ESPN, was originally scheduled to be one week after the signing of a revision to the CBA. Instead, players may now have only until Tuesday or Wednesday.
“I think it’s terrible,” McCourty said. “I think it’s B.S. that the league has changed that date.”
McCourty did not take questions during his media availability Sunday, instead offering a five-minute statement. He did not confirm whether he plans on playing this season. McCourty noted he has spoken to each of his teammates that has opted out and shared his full support.
Should he play this season, McCourty expressed a strong interest in continuing to be active off the field. He called for justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was killed inside her apartment after Louisville police officers utilized a no-knock search warrant. He also called attention to healthcare inequalities, the digital divide, and qualified immunity.
In addition to his individual efforts, McCourty is hopeful the NFL can raise awareness about important social justice issues. But first, he says, the league needs to address its own lack of diversity among head coaches, general managers, and owners.
“I think it’s key that the NFL wants to get involved in making changes, but I think until we see those changes in our game, I think it’s hard for us in the NFL to go out there and speak and try to be very outspoken and be at the forefront without having those things in our league,” he said.
TE LaCosse opts out
Tight end Matt LaCosse has opted out of the 2020 season, a league source confirmed.
LaCosse and his wife, Jessica, are expecting their first child this November. He became the eighth Patriots player to sit out this season amid the coronavirus pandemic. No NFL team has had more players opt out.
In addition to Chung and Hightower, running back Brandon Bolden, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, wide receiver Marqise Lee, guard Najee Toran, and fullback Danny Vitale have all also elected not to play.
Without LaCosse, New England’s depth chart at tight end includes 2018 seventh-round draft pick Ryan Izzo and rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. Undrafted rookie Jake Burt, who played four seasons at Boston College, could also be in the mix.
Andrews ready to go
Despite concerns about the coronavirus, center David Andrews said he will play this year after missing last season because of blood clots in his lungs.
“My choice has been made,” Andrews said. “It’s just something I feel comfortable with, to have the opportunity to go out and play.”
Andrews, who has been medically cleared, said he consulted both doctors and his wife in reaching his decision. He expressed excitement about the season, one that will certainly be different than years past.
“You have to be as safe as you can,” Andrews said. “There’s obviously risks we’re all taking here. There’s risk of going to the grocery store, filling up your car with gas, so you just got to be as safe as you can and as clean as you can.”
The offensive line will be without both position coach Dante Scarnecchia, who retired in January, and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who opted out.
Among the other changes for Andrews: He will be snapping passes to a quarterback other than Tom Brady for the first time in his four-year career. Veteran Cam Newton and 2019 draft pick Jarrett Stidham will be vying for the starting job.
“Cam obviously has played a lot of football and had a successful career,” Andrews said. “I’m just as excited to see what all our quarterbacks can do. They all bring something different to the table. I think it’s just going to make for a fun year for us.”