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Breaking: Patriots Star Is Opting Out Of The 2020 Season

A New England Patriots helmet sitting on the bench.

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: A New England Patriots helmet during the first half of the game between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

One of the New England Patriots' best defenders has reportedly decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL regular season.

Dont’a Hightower, a three-time Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowl linebacker, has reportedly decided to pass on the 2020 season.

The 30-year-old linebacker has been with the organization since 2012. He's won three championships and made two Pro Bowls. Hightower was named to the Patriots' 2010s all-decade team.

Hightower, who starred collegiately at Florida, recently had a baby. He's decided to put the health and safety of his family first and pass on playing this season. ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter first reported the news.

"Patriots’ three-time Super-Bowl champion and Pro-Bowl ILB Dont’a Hightower is opting out of the 2020 season, league sources tell ESPN. Hightower is scheduled to make $8 million in base salary. He had a baby July 16," he reports.

Players who opt out are given a small stipend and their 2020 salary automatically converts to 2021, according to league rules. The Patriots have now had five players opt out of the season.

We will likely see more NFL players opt out as the week goes on. Players are beginning to report to training camp, but not everyone will choose to play this year.

The Patriots are scheduled to open the 2020 regular season on Sunday, Sept. 13 against the Miami Dolphins. It should be an interesting year in New England.