Thus, it continues for the New England Patriots. As first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates on Sunday, tight end Matt LaCosse has decided to opt out of the 2020 season.
LaCosse’s decision to forgo the upcoming season increases the Patriots’ total of number opt-out players to eight. He will join starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower, starting safety Patrick Chung, starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, core special teamer/running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale, reserve offensive lineman Najee Toran and wide receiver Marqise Lee. The eight New England players are the most of any team in the league.
LaCosse, 27, was about to enter his sixth year in the NFL, and his second year with the Patriots. LaCosse entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the New York Giants in 2015. He has also spent time with the New York Jets and Denver Broncos before signing with the Patriots in the 2019 offseason. He played in 11 games last season in New England, collecting 13 receptions for 131 yards and one touchdown. He was expected to compete for a roster spot with fellow incumbent tight end Ryan Izzo. However, he rarely projected as higher than third on the depth chart, behind rookie tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene.
Per Mike Reiss of ESPN, LaCosse had signed a two-year contract worth up to $3.8 million with the Patriots in March 2019. The second year of his contract, in which he was scheduled to earn a base salary of $1 million, will now toll to the 2021 season.
According to Miguel Benzan (@PatsCap) LaCosse’s decision sets the Patriots salary cap space number at $26,045,302. Benzan was careful to note that this number is expected to increase by $9,237,499; provided that COVID-19 Amendments to the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) indeed move the 2020 signing bonus proration into 2021. At press time, an agreement was expected, but yet to be finalized.
The tight end position will be among the most highly scrutinized for the team in 2020. Patriots tight ends ranked last in the NFL in receptions and targets in 2019. As Reiss also reported, via research by ESPN’s Stats & Information, New England was tied with the Chicago Bears for the fewest receiving touchdowns from tight ends (two).
In addition to Asiasi, Keene and Izzo, the Patriots list undrafted free agents Rashod Berry and Jake Burt on their tight end depth chart.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC