The Patriots are likely soon going to be in the market for some offensive line depth, and that's because they were hit with a surprise retirement this week.
According to ESPN.com, tackle Jared Veldheer has decided to hang up his cleats for good. When the Patriots originally signed Veldheer on May 13, they were hoping the veteran would be able to add some depth at offensive tackle, but with Veldheer's retirement, the team is now back at square one.
Veldheer had been brought in to provide insurance for a Patriots offensive line that has multiple players trying to return from injury. The team's first-round pick from 2018 (Isaiah Wynn) is still battling back from an Achilles injury that caused him to miss the entire 2018 season. The Patriots also have a tackle that they added in the 2019 draft (Yodny Cajuste), but he's still recovering from offseason quad surgery, which is why New England needed the depth.
The 31-year-old's decision to retire is somewhat surprising, and that's because he would have made some good money in 2019 even if he didn't make the 53-man roster. Basically, if Veldheer had shown up to training camp and been cut, he would have made $1.25 million. Instead, he'll get nothing from the Patriots.
Not an easy financial decision for Veldheer to retire. He would’ve made $1.25m even if he were cut in training camp, $3.5m if he were a backup all season, and $6.5m if he won a starting job for most of the year.— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) May 21, 2019
The lineman's decision to retire came after he participated in the Patriots' first OTA of the offseason on Monday. Veldheer actually considered retirement while playing for the Cardinals in 2017, but decided to stick with football. At the time, Veldheer was coming off a 2016 season where he had missed eight games due to injuries, and he had also just read a study about the effects of CTE on NFL players.
"It was culmination of things, kind of missing the last half of the season last year (because of a torn triceps muscle and a badly fractured finger) and just kind of rehabbing. You start thinking when you have a lot of time on your plate," Veldheer said at the time, via AZCentral.com. "You start thinking huge-picture life stuff, you know? You normally don't necessarily think you're going to die. So you're just trying to figure everything out. Stuff just all kind of happened and compounded and I just kind of needed a second to regroup and reflect."
After sitting out one day of practice in 2017 to think things over, Veldheer ended up returning and playing two more seasons.
The lineman's career started in Oakland after the Raiders made him a third-round pick in 2010. After four seasons with the Raiders, Veldheer moved on to Arizona in 2014 when he signed a five-year deal with the Cardinals. Veldheer then spent four years in Arizona before being traded to Denver prior to the 2018 season. In nine total seasons, Veldheer played in 118 regular season games, making 113 starts.
Veldheer's retirement decision likely has a lot to do with the fact that he's dealt with multiple injuries over the course of his career. Not only did he miss time due to two different triceps injuries in his career (11 games with the Raiders in 2013 and eight with the Cardinals in 2016), but he has also battled ankle and knee problems. Over the past six seasons, Veldheer has missed a total of 26 games due to injury.
Although Veldheer never got to play in a Super Bowl, he was a starter on the 2015 Cardinals team that made it all the way to the NFC Championship before getting thumped 49-15 by the Panthers.