Dont’a Hightower has become one of the latest high profile players to opt out of the 2020 NFL season amid concerns over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The New England Patriots linebacker’s decision comes following the birth of his son two weeks ago, according to the ESPN, while his mother also has Type 2 diabetes.
He becomes the fifth Patriots player to withdraw following on from right tackle Marcus Cannon, running back Brandon Bolden, offensive lineman Najee Toran and fullback Danny Vitale.
Hightower’s voluntary opt-out is set to see him receive a $150,000 salary advance, while Cannon will receive $350,000 as a high-risk opt-out after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma before the 2011 NFL Draft.
“Me and my fiancée are just more concerned with the health of our family than football – especially the new addition to our family,” Hightower told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
The 30-year-old has won three Super Bowls in his time with the Patriots and was named to the Pro Bowl for the second time in 2019 after producing 71 tackles, 5.5 sacks and four passes defended last season.
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