The Patriots epitomize team sports. The Bill Belichick-led franchise has carried a mindset of no one’s above the team for years. That’s why when the first Patriots player opted out, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that more followed.

Seven New England players announced plans to opt out early Tuesday. The most notable names were two-time Pro Bowler Dont’a Hightower and 11-year NFL veteran Patrick Chung. They have been two of the most important pieces to the Patriots’ defense over the last decade.

Starting offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and reserve running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale, and offensive lineman Najee Toran joined the two leaders in opting out.

When Trevor Lawrence woke up this morning, he probably wondered why his name was trending on social media. Twitter thinks that this is the latest trick up Belichick’s sleeve to tank away the 2020 season and draft Lawrence as his next franchise quarterback.

Whether it’s true or not, those losses will make the Patriots a weaker team. New England’s offensive line already wasn’t a finished product, so losing a starting tackle hurts. Last season’s No. 1 defense still has reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore and the McCourty twins in the secondary, plus the genius Belichick, so the defense will survive.

For the football fans who were hoping Cam Newton picked up right where Brady left off, these moves sting. Newton has his work cut out for him, and the Patriots may be closer to drafting Lawrence than winning a seventh Lombardi trophy.

Other notable players around the NFL who opted out Tuesday include Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce, Bills DT Star Lotulelei, Bears DT Eddie Goldman and Ravens offensive tackle Andre Smith.

Mahomes to become part-time owner of Kansas City Royals

Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes is already putting his new money to good use.

Mahomes has become a member of the new ownership group of the Kansas City Royals, making him the youngest part-owner in sports history.

“I’m honored to become a part-owner of the Kansas City Royals,” Mahomes said in a statement released by the team. “I love this city and the people of this great town. This opportunity allows me to deepen my roots in this community, which is something I’m excited to do.”

Mahomes’ father, Pat Mahomes, pitched 11 seasons in MLB for six teams. Mahomes pitched and played outfield in high school, and his fastball topped out at 94 mph.

He signed a record 10-year, $477 million contract extension three weeks ago.

First MLB player to kneel signs with Mets

Former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell first came into the national spotlight when he knelt during the national anthem in 2017 to protest social injustices. No other MLB players joined him, and he hasn’t played since 2018, but both of those things are changing.

Maxwell is signing with the Mets pending a physical and COVID-19 testing. He played three seasons with the A’s as the backup catcher and batted .240.

Many teams and players in MLB have knelt this season, but Maxwell was by himself in 2017. In a story with ESPN earlier this month, Maxwell noted how the lack of support among his peers frustrated him.

“They’re making T-shirts and they’re showing they care, but they don’t go back to the original sacrificed person,” Maxwell said. “Where was all of this then? It’s easy to talk because everyone’s talking. I was out there by myself. I’m bitter as [expletive], and I’m not hiding it.”