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Devin McCourty believes Patriots’ opt-outs are trending towards a 2021 return

An NFL-leading eight Patriots opted out of the 2020 season.

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

An NFL-high eight New England Patriots became opt-outs prior to the start of the 2020 season.

Running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale, wide receiver Marqise Lee, tight end Matt LaCosse, tackle Marcus Cannon and interior lineman Najee Toran were the names on the offensive side of the ball. And on the defensive side, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung made the same decision amid Covid-19 concerns.

But Patriots captain Devin McCourty believes their availability is trending in the right direction for 2021.

“From my understanding, they’ll all be back,” the 33-year-old safety told Tom E. Curran on NBC Sports’ Patriots Talk Podcast Friday. “B. Bolden, High, Chung, so I can’t wait. Those are my guys — Cannon. I just can’t wait to be back around those guys, even outside of football. Just seeing them every day, seeing their nice faces.”

Lee and Vitale had arrived on one-year deals in the spring months after Toran, a member of the 2019 practice squad, signed a futures pact. And with contracts tolled, Bolden, LaCosse and Hightower are now scheduled for free agency next league year while Cannon and Chung are currently signed through 2022 and 2024, respectively.

The opt-outs opened north of $20 million in cap space ahead of New England’s 7-9 campaign.