Patriots News: Bill Belichick, Damien Harris, Matthew Judon and Jerod Mayo

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Former Patriots running back Damien Harris announces surprising retirement

A fan favorite who signed with a different team last year has decided to call it a career after only five seasons in the NFL. Damien Harris, who spent the 2023 season with AFC East rival the Buffalo Bills, announced via his Instagram that he was hanging up the cleats and will move on to other endeavors off the football field.

It was a shock to hear for most since Harris is only 27 years old and looked like he had a lot left in the tank. However, he suffered a scary neck injury against the Giants in Week 6 and was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter.

Although he didn't discuss his injury as the reason for his early retirement, the assumption is it played a significant factor. He wrote a thoughtful post about his career, from college to the pros, and specifically thanked "the two greatest head coaches of all time, Nick Saban and Bill Belichick."

“For the past 20 years, playing the game of football has been one of the great privileges in my life. Getting to represent the name on the back of my jersey on and off the field, getting to compete at the highest level with and against the best competitors while winning championships, and being coached by the two greatest head coaches of all time in Nick Saban and Bill Belichick are all just a small part of what God has done in my life with the game of football.”

It's always unfortunate to see an injury be the likely or definitive cause for a young player to retire. It feels like it happens far too often, really.

Hopefully, Harris has healed up well over the past six months and will find joy in whatever he decides to do post-NFL.