Cleveland Browns v New England Patriots
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The New England Patriots have made waves this week with all the players they've brought in via free agency, but now they're seeing one key contributor walk out the door. Patrick Chung announced on Thursday that he has elected to walk away from the NFL and retire after a career that stretched over 11 seasons. The veteran safety made the announcement on social media and thanked the Patriots organization, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft for the decade-plus he spent in Foxborough. 

"I want to say thank you to the Patriots organization, my family, my fans, coaches, just everyone," Chung's statement reads. "I'm in tears writing this but I've decided to hang up the cleats. Bill, Mr. Kraft (mean mug), thank you for giving me the opportunity to play for your team for 11 years. I love you Bill for teaching me life on and off the field, I will not forget that. To my teammates, trainers, EQ team, video guys, meal room employees, janitors, etc., I love you guys and ladies. Thank you for being the rock to the organization. For cleaning up, feeding, taking care of me for 11 years. You will forever be family. But it's time to start a new life. Patriot until I die!!! Love you all."

The 33-year-old opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns and last played for the club in 2019. This retirement announcement puts an end to Chung's impressive second stint with the Patriots. After the club drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft out of Oregon, Chung spent just one season outside of the Patriots organization after signing with the Eagles in free agency in 2013. The next offseason, he re-signed with New England and has been with the club ever since. 

As Belichick has admitted, Chung's second act with the Patriots from 2014 until now was far more productive than the first, largely thanks to the club deploying him in a new way. The safety played more in the box and was tasked with covering tight ends, which proved to be an ideal fit for Chung's playing style. At one point, Belichick even said Chung was "one of the best players in the league."

Now, Chung ends his career as a three-time Super Bowl champion and a member of the Patriots All-Decade Team for the 2010s.