“Me and my fiancée are just more concerned with the health of our family than football — especially the new addition to our family,” Hightower said via Ian Rapoport. The couple welcomed a son to this world on July 16.
Hightower is the highest-profile player to opt out so far. As it’s considered voluntary instead of falling in the NFL’s high-risk category, he’ll receive a $150,000 salary advance for the 2020 season, per Tom Pelissero.
Hightower, 27, is a former first-round pick of the Patriots back in 2012. He played out his rookie contract before the Patriots picked up his fifth-year option. Hightower played out the option and tested free agency.
Ultimately, Hightower returned to the Patriots on a four-year, $35.5 million contract that included $19 million guaranteed. He stands to make base salaries of $5.75 million (2018), $7 million (2019), and $8 million (2020) over the remainder of the agreement.
In 2019, Hightower appeared in 15 games for the Patriots and recorded 71 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown and four pass defenses. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 17 linebacker out of 89 qualifying players.
Bolden, 30, wound up signing on with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi back in 2012. He spent the first six years of his career in New England and primarily plays on special teams.
Bolden played out a few one-year deals before being released in September of 2018. The Dolphins signed him to a one-year contract and he finished out the year in Miami.
In 2019, Bolden returned to New England on a two-year deal. He was set to make a base salary of $1.3 million in 2020.
In 2019, Bolden appeared in 15 games for the Patriots and rushed for 68 yards on 15 carries (4.5 YPC) and three touchdowns to go along with nine receptions for 111 yards and another touchdown.