James Develin did the New England Patriots a solid with the timing of his NFL retirement.
During an appearance on “The Ross Tucker Football Podcast,” the former Patriots fullback said he announced his retirement when he did — two days after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft — in order to free up a roster spot for New England to sign an additional undrafted free agent.
Develin said last week he’d known for months that his career likely was over, citing complications from the neck injury that ended his 2019 season.
“Well, that was actually just more of a favor, I guess, for the Patriots,” Develin explained on the podcast, “just so that they could have the full roster availability coming out of the draft and then signing free agents. Because honestly, I kind of knew this was all coming because of the injury situation last year and then uncovering some stuff and finding out some underlying issues that I had been dealing with that were potentially dangerous going forward.
“So I knew that I had to (retire), but honestly, it was kind of one of those things where it was such an emotional thing, such a tough decision, that I just needed some time to really let it set in for me personally. But then I wanted to do right by the Patriots and give them the opportunity to get somebody else on the roster to help them win games.
“And honestly, thinking back on the way that I got into the organization, being that 90th guy on the roster and trying to fight my way up, I needed to pass along that opportunity that I first had walking in the door there and give somebody else a chance to compete and try to make something for themselves. So I just felt like it was the right time, just freeing up that roster space.”
Develin, a former defensive lineman at Brown, joined the Patriots in 2012 after stints in the Arena Football League and United Football League and 1 1/2 seasons on the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad. The 31-year-old went on to win three Super Bowls in New England and was voted to the franchise’s All-Decade Team for the 2010s.
Though he’s still mulling his next move, Develin said he’d consider remaining with the Patriots in a non-playing role.