Following fullback James Develin's announcement that he is retiring from football, the New England Patriots announced they were placing Develin on the reserve/retired list, and also released a statement by head coach Bill Belichick on Develin:
"To some people, James Develin may be 'unsung' in terms of publicity and fame, but to his coaches and teammates he is one of the most appreciated and respected players we have ever had. In football, there are a lot of tough, unselfish and dependable people who bring positive leadership on a daily basis, but the name James Develin represents those qualities at an elite level. A tribute to the impact James had on our success, of the five seasons in which he appeared in every game, we won three championships. Any team would be fortunate to have a James Develin-'type' on its roster but the reality is he is a rarity and we are very fortunate he was a Patriot."
Develin was a pivotal part of the Patriots offense, specifically in their run game. A large part of their success in 2018 on the ground was thanks to Develin, who is one of the best in the league when it comes to creating a lane for the ball carrier behind him.
Last season, Develin was placed on injured reserve in late September because of a neck injury, which - as he mentioned in his retirement announcement - is the reason for him calling it a career now. There was talk all offseason that Develin - at age-31 - could retire due to the severity of his neck injury. That looks now to be true.
The Patriots already have a backup plan in place. They signed former Packers fullback Danny Vitale during free agency. They also drafted tight end Dalton Keene, who is a great blocker and could earn snaps at fullback if need be. But only time will tell if they can play at as high a level as Develin did during his seven-year career with the Patriots.