A former New England Patriots official, now a current NFL analyst, believes that the team won't pursue free-agent edge rusher, Jadeveon Clowney. Michael Lombardi, who worked with the Patriots as assistant to the coaching staff from 2014 to 2016, said in an interview on “The Pat McAfee Show” that Clowney is “not a fit for New England whatsoever” with the way he rushes the passer. Lombardi also took notice of Clowney’s habit of not practicing on Wednesdays and Thursdays due to his injury issues. “There’s no chance he has any way of playing for New England.

It’s a complete no fit,” said Lombardi, per a report by Henry McKenna of USA Today.

Clowney, who played for the Seattle Seahawks last season, remains in the free-agent market due to his high salary demand. Last season, he earned $15 million, and he’s now asking for a salary north of that amount. The Patriots, after the flurry of opt-outs for the 2020 season, can accommodate Clowney’s salary demand, but Bill Belichick is not expected to spend that kind of money for an edge rusher. Earlier, Jeff P. Howe of The Athletic said the Patriots have yet to reach out to Clowney about a possible deal. The Patriots suffered a major void on defense with the decision of linebacker Dont’a Hightower to opt-out because of the birth of his baby.

Patriots suffer seventh opt-out

The Patriots suffered another hit on their roster after veteran wide receiver Marqise Lee decided to opt-out, per a source by Jim McBride of The Boston Globe. If confirmed, Lee will account for the seventh opt-out for the Patriots, following Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, right tackle Marcus Cannon, running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale and guard Najee Toran.

Lee signed a one-year deal with the Patriots worth $1.047 million after five years with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Last season, Lee was limited by injuries to just six games, where he caught just three passes for 18 yards and no touchdown. When fully healthy, Lee could be a force in the receiving game, just like what he did in 2016 and 2017.

In 2016, he caught 63 passes for 851 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games while he caught 56 passes for 702 yards and three scores in 14 games the following year. Despite Lee’s decision, the Patriots still have a solid wide receiving corps, led by Julian Edelman. Also on the Patriots’ depth chart are Mohamed Sanu, N’Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Matthew Slater, Quincy Adeboyejo, Will Hastings, Devin Ross, and Jeff Thomas. The Patriots' wide receivers are practicing with new quarterback Cam Newton and second-year signal-caller Jarrett Stidham.

Belichick supports players’ decision to opt-out

In an interview with reporters on Friday, Belichick expressed support to the decision of some players to opt-out due to concerns about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The veteran head coach said the players explained the situation that led to their decision to skip the upcoming season. “They had to make the decision that was best for them, and I totally respect and support it 100 percent,” said Belichick, per Doug Kyed of New England Sports Network (NESN).