The list of New England Patriots opting out of the 2020 season has climbed to seven.
Wide receiver Marqise Lee became the latest on Saturday, as first reported by Jim McBride of the Boston Globe.
Lee, 28, signed with New England in the hours leading up to the NFL draft in April. The USC product and former Biletnikoff Award winner had caught 174 passes for 2,184 yards and eight touchdowns as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who selected him at No. 39 overall back in 2014.
The final two years of Lee’s tenure in Jacksonville were cut short by knee injuries. He was set to compete for a 53-man roster spot on a New England depth chart featuring Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski, Quincy Adeboyejo, Devin Ross, Jeff Thomas and Will Hastings.
Lee, who became a father over the offseason, will instead see his contract toll into 2021.
Running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale, offensive linemen Najee Toran and Marcus Cannon, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung have also made the opt-out decision due to coronavirus concerns.
“I respect all of them, and I respect all the players on our team,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said during his pre-training camp video call on Friday. “We all have to make decisions. I talked to those guys and they explained their situations. They had to make the decision that was best for them, and I totally respect and support it 100 percent.”