Dec 18, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty (32) against the Las Vegas Raiders in the second half at Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Patriots 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots’ Devin McCourty retires after 13 NFL seasons

Defensive back Devin McCourty announced his retirement Friday after 13 seasons with the New England Patriots.

The two-time Pro Bowler, 35, was part of three Patriots teams that were crowned Super Bowl champions.

McCourty was a pending free agent and said on a podcast appearance last month that he had been going back and forth on a decision about his future.

“It is a rare group of players who win games at a historic rate, exude team culture, lead, win awards and win championships. And then there is Devin McCourty,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “Devin did all of those things as a player and more. But, what I think of first when I think of Devin is the type of man he is, his character, his values and how high he raised the bar for spreading goodness and justice in the community.

“For 13 years, Devin made everyone in our organization feel better and be better because of who he is — a pillar of professionalism, unselfishness, work ethic, preparation, intelligence and performance. I am excited to see him bring those same traits to his next chapter and brighten the lives of even more people.”

The Patriots drafted McCourty in the first round (27th overall) in 2010 and he became an immediate starter at cornerback. Three seasons into his career, he converted to free safety.

In 205 career games — all starts — with the Patriots, McCourty collected 971 tackles, 35 interceptions, 110 pass breakups, 11 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. In 24 postseason starts, he added two interceptions and 10 pass deflections.

He had not missed a game since 2015.

McCourty’s twin brother, Jason McCourty, retired last summer after a 13-year NFL career of his own. The brothers overlapped in New England from 2018-2020.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals safety Chris Banjo (31) against the Los Angeles Chargers at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

S Chris Banjo retires, begins NFL coaching career

Safety Chris Banjo announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday, with a job waiting for him on the coaching staff of the Denver Broncos.

In a tweet on his 33rd birthday, Banjo said he was thankful for the “journey … memories … and teammates turned family.”

Banjo, undrafted out of SMU, signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2013. He also played for the New Orleans Saints under new Broncos head coach Sean Payton and spent the past four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

He is joining Payton’s newly assembled staff in Denver as assistant special teams coach. Last season with the Cardinals, he played 81 percent of snaps in his 13 appearances.

In 131 career games (seven starts), Banjo had 143 tackles, eight passes defensed, three interceptions, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers assistant head coach John Mitchell (left) and head coach Mike Tomlin (right) look on before the Steelers hit the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers’ longtime assistant coach John Mitchell retires

Steelers assistant head coach John Mitchell retired Wednesday after 29 seasons in Pittsburgh — a half-century in all in coaching.

He began his coaching career in 1973 at his alma mater, Alabama, coaching defensive ends and learning under coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. In 1971, he was the first Black player to wear the Crimson Tide uniform.

Mitchell later coached at Arkansas, LSU and Temple, then moved on to the Cleveland Browns as an assistant to Bill Belichick in 1991 and to the Steelers as defensive line coach in 1994.

He held that position for Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin through the 2006 season, then added assistant head coach to his title from 2007-17. He served as assistant coach only the past five seasons. Mitchell, 71, won two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers.

“I’m grateful to the Rooney family for the wonderful opportunity to coach and work for the Steelers for nearly 30 years,” Mitchell said. “It was truly an honor. I’d also like to thank Coach Tomlin for giving me the opportunity to stay with the franchise when Coach Cowher retired. I will treasure my time in Pittsburgh and appreciate everyone affiliated with the organization.”

Art Rooney II, president of the Steelers, expressed the team’s appreciation to Mitchell.

“Coach Mitch has been a pivotal member of the Steelers organization, in a variety of roles, for the better part of 30 years,” Rooney said in a team statement. “When you consider his path, as both a player and coach, Mitch created opportunities in football for young Black men that quite honestly didn’t previously exist. He has left an imprint on this franchise, and the sport and culture of football, that will continue well beyond his retirement.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) takes the field before a wild card game against the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Tom Brady files retirement papers, Bucs take $35M cap hit

Tom Brady filed his retirement paperwork with the NFL and NFL Players Association on Friday, several reports said, cementing the seven-time Super Bowl winner’s Feb. 1 announcement that his playing days were over.

Brady retired last winter, walked it back 40 days later and played one final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers got three seasons with Brady, winning a Super Bowl in his first year on the scene and losing in the playoffs the next two seasons.

Now the bill has come due for Tampa Bay, as it will take a full $35 million dead-cap hit in 2023 as a result of Brady’s retirement.

Had Brady worked with the Bucs on a contract amendment to keep Brady on the books with so-called voidable years and processed his retirement after June 1, they would have been able to split the dead-cap hit between 2023 and 2024. Instead, multiple reports said, all $35 million will be assessed in 2023, putting Tampa Bay nearly $60 million over the salary cap.

The team’s remaining options at quarterback as of now are Kyle Trask and unrestricted free agent Blaine Gabbert.

Brady played in the Super Bowl 10 times — or 18 percent of all Super Bowls to date — was a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player and a 15-time Pro Bowl selection. He spent his first 20 seasons with the New England Patriots before joining the Buccaneers ahead of the 2020 season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 25, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) alongside Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals’ J.J. Watt announces retirement: ‘It’s been an absolute honor’

Five-time All-Pro J.J. Watt announced his retirement after 12 NFL seasons on Tuesday.

The defensive end posted a photo of himself with his wife, Kealia, and their infant son, Koa, to social media with the following statement:

“Koa’s first ever NFL game.

“My last ever NFL home game.

“My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure.”

The photo was taken at the Arizona Cardinals’ Christmas Day overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Watt has two road games left with the Cardinals — Sunday at Atlanta and Jan. 8 at San Francisco.

Watt, 33, leaves behind a legacy of greatness on and off the field. A five time Pro Bowl honoree, he also was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-2010s Team and three times selected the Defensive Player of the Year. In 2017, he was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year and the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year after he spearheaded a fundraising effort that brought in more than $37 million in Hurricane Harvey relief for the Houston community, where he played with the Texans.

The Texans selected Watt with the No. 11 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, and he spent 10 seasons there. The Wisconsin native signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals before the 2021 season.

In his first five seasons, he was a dominant and feared defensive force, twice posting 20-plus sacks and winning Defensive Player of the Year honors 2012, 2014 and 2015. But serious injuries limited him in four of the next six seasons, and he lost a half-season or more in each of those four years.

For his career, Watt has appeared in 149 games (all starts), with 580 tackles (191 for loss), 313 quarterback hits and 111.5 sacks. He also intercepted two passes — returning both for touchdowns — forced 27 fumbles and recovered 17, and broke up 69 passes.

As a weapon on offense, he also caught three passes for four yards — and three touchdowns — with the Texans in a dominant 2014 season.

In 14 games with the Cardinals this season, Watt has made 33 tackles (14 for loss) and posted 21 quarterback hits, 9.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

–Field Level Media

No. 18-Delanie Walker: Tennessee Titans tight end Walker (82) watches the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a preseason game at Nissan Stadium Aug. 25, 2019.


Former Titans TE Delanie Walker announces retirement

Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday.

Walker, 38, began his 14-season NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers in 2006. He spent seven seasons with the 49ers before signing a four-year, $17.5 million contract with the Tennessee Titans in 2013.

Walker will make it official on Tuesday afternoon when he holds a press conference at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.

“I would say it worked out better than I could have imagined,” Walker said on Monday. “I dreamt about it, and made it come to life because I believed it would. I knew once I had the opportunity, I wasn’t going to let it get away from me.

“Playing in Tennessee, with the Titans, it was better than I ever dreamed of, and I can’t thank the Titans organization enough for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to do everything I was able to do. It was a dream come true, to be honest with you.”

Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk celebrated Walker’s accomplishments with the team. He was named to the Pro Bowl from 2015-17.

“I want to congratulate Delanie on a fantastic NFL career,” she said. “His impact on our team and in our community is undoubtedly one to be celebrated and set a standard for others. He was a true professional in everything he did and was one of the key players who helped our organization reach the level of success that we have sustained for several years now.”

Walker had 504 catches for 5,888 yards and 36 touchdowns in 183 games (100 starts) with the 49ers and Titans.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) during an NFL preseason game at Lambeau Field on Thursday, August 16, 2018 in Green Bay, Wis.


Packers sacks leader Clay Matthews: ‘My playing days are over’

All-time Green Bay Packers sacks leader Clay Matthews confirmed to multiple reporters during a promotional tour Tuesday that he has unofficially retired from the NFL.

All that’s left is for the Packers to bring him back for an official ceremony.

“My playing days are over,” Matthews, 36, said Tuesday in an interview with Packers Wire.

The linebacker spent 2009-2018 with Green Bay but was released during the offseason in 2019. He played the 2019 season with the Los Angeles Rams but hasn’t been in the league since.

“Ultimately it is what it is,” Matthews told ESPN. “I had fun in my year in L.A. It was a blast getting to go home (to California) and play with some incredible players.”

Matthews said he is awaiting the day when he will be invited to retire officially as a member of the Packers.

“I definitely look forward to it,” Matthews told Packers Wire. “My kids are getting older, so they understand what I was able to do, so I very much look forward to showing them around Lambeau, and where we used to live, and all the things that were an integral part of their young lives and my young life as well.”

Matthews racked up 91.5 sacks in 156 games (150 starts) with the Packers, who picked him in the first round of the 2009 draft. Matthews was still a viable NFL player when he joined the Rams, racking up eight sacks and two forced fumbles in 13 games with them.

He sat out the 2020 season during the COVID-19 pandemic and told ESPN he hoped the Packers might ask him to return in 2021. Joe Barry, his former position coach, had just rejoined the Packers as defensive coordinator.

“He had reached out to me,” Matthews said. “He knew that I could still play and I think he knew if he had me, he could find a way to use me within the scheme. But nothing ever manifested, so I think ultimately there might have been powers above that didn’t want that to happen.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (23) warms up against the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Wild Card playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

CB Joe Haden to sign with Browns, retire after 12 seasons

Cornerback Joe Haden plans to sign a one-day contract with the Cleveland Browns and retire after 12 seasons in the NFL.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus said Haden would sign the ceremonial deal but at age 33, has no intentions to return to the league.

Haden was a first-round pick of the Browns in 2010 and spent five seasons (2017-21) with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Haden started 67 games with the Steelers and 148 total between the two clubs, nabbing 29 interceptions and 615 tackles in his career.

–Field Level Media

May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back James White (28) catches the ball at the team's OTA at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots RB James White announces retirement

Patriots running back James White announced his retirement Thursday following eight NFL seasons — all in New England.

White, 30, won three Super Bowl titles with the Patriots. In Super Bowl LI, he scored 20 points in the second half, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime to secure the unlikely comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons.

He issued a statement on social media announcing his retirement, thanking his family, the Patriots and others for making his NFL career possible.

“To be able to play my entire career for one franchise, in front of the best fans in the NFL, has been a tremendous blessing and honor,” he wrote. “… To say that Foxboro will always hold a special place in my heart is an understatement. It’s been the most significant chapter of my adulthood: my kids were born here; it’s the place we know the best as adults and where I have grown and created my family.”

The Patriots selected the 5-foot-10 White in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft after his career at Wisconsin, where he amassed more than 4,000 yards rushing. But he was best known in New England for his receiving skills, catching 381 passes for 3,278 yards with 25 touchdowns out of the backfield.

He added 1,278 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in his 95 games (13 starts) with the Patriots.

Last season, he was limited to just three games and gained 132 yards from scrimmage, scoring one touchdown. He sustained a season-ending hip injury in Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints and entered camp on the physically unable to perform list.

ESPN reported that, at a community event in July, White “was still walking with what appeared to be an uncomfortable gait.”

He forever will have a spot in Patriots’ history for his performance in New England’s 34-28 win over the Falcons, who took a 28-3 lead into halftime of Super Bowl LI. In that game, he caught 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, ran for two touchdowns and converted a key two-point play. He set the record for most receptions in a Super Bowl game.

The Patriots now have five running backs on their roster: Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, J.J. Taylor, and rookies Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2018; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy (64) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

J.R. Sweezy signs one-day contract with Seahawks, retires

Guard J.R. Sweezy will retire as a member of the Seattle Seahawks after signing a one-day contract with the team on Friday.

Sweezy, 33, spent five seasons with the Seahawks after being selected by the team in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was a defensive lineman with North Carolina State before moving to the other side of the ball with Seattle.

Sweezy became a starting guard in 2013 and helped the Seahawks to a pair of Super Bowl appearances, including a title to conclude the 2013 season.

“We’re honored to announce that we’ve signed J.R. Sweezy to a one-day contract to retire as a Seahawk. Thank you, J.R.!” the Seahawks wrote on Twitter.

Sweezy signed with Tampa Bay in 2016 and spent two years with the Buccaneers before rejoining the Seahawks in 2018. He played the next two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before spending training camp in 2021 with the New Orleans Saints, who released him before the start of the season.

–Field Level Media