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McCourty: Key opt-outs will be returning

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The Patriots might not be playing in the Super Bowl this weekend, but they got some good news from one of the team's captains on Friday. Devin McCourty, appearing on Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast, told Curran that he believes all of the Patriots opt-out players from 2020 will be returning.

The Pats had more players than any other team opt-out of the season, and the returns of veterans like Dont'a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Brandon Bolden and Marcus Cannon would be a huge boost to the team.

"From my understanding, they'll all be back," said McCourty, mentioning those four specific players. "I just can't wait to be back around those guys. Even outside of football, just seeing them every day, seeing their nice faces."

McCouty did not mention the team's other opt-outs -- Matt Lacosse, Danny Vitale, Marqise Lee and Najee Toran -- all of whom joined the team in the last two seasons, but it seems likely that they should be back as well. Altogether, it would give the 2021 Patriots a major boost to see so much experience return to the fold and instantly improve on the team they ended the season with, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

McCourty also reflected on what a challenging season it was for a team that is used to playing at this time of the post-season.

"It was a little bit of a reminder of how hard it is to get to that game, how hard it is to make the playoffs," said McCourty of his 2020 season. "Listen, we don't have a lot of those guys that were in all these playoff games and all those Super Bowls. Our team's transitioned a little bit. I've played in five Super Bowls, we don't have that many guys that have played in the four Super Bowls or the five Super Bowls. It was a learning experience I think this year for a lot of guys. Even for me in year 11."

While Curran admitted he felt the Patriots had a lot of work to do to get back to their previous lofty status, McCourty was feeling motivated by the disappointing season and that the Patriots could be closer than people might think.

"It makes you want to get better, it makes you want to get back [to the Super Bowl], especially as the older guys you're playing for one reason, you want to be in that game, so it definitely gives us some motivation," said McCourty. "We got to dial-in and get back to the playoffs and give ourselves an opportunity. I think that will be everybody's focus."

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2021 Patriots Mock Draft Tracker

Find out what the top 'experts' are predicting the Patriots will do in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

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