Just days into his first training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Branden Albert is retiring from football. The veteran tackle announced the surprising move in a statement released by the team Monday:
“After nine seasons playing in the National Football League, I have decided to retire from the game that has given me so much. I would like to thank Mr. [Shahid] Khan and the Jaguars organization, Mr. [Stephen] Ross, Joe Philbin, Dennis Hickey and the Dolphins organization and Mr. [Clark] Hunt, Carl Peterson, Herm Edwards and the Chiefs organization for providing me with the opportunity of a lifetime.
"GOD has blessed me with so much through football that I thought would never be attainable. It’s been truly a blessing. I cherish all of the relationships and people I have encountered while playing in the NFL! Special thanks to Al Groh and the University of Virginia for giving me the opportunity for a great education and showing faith in me when no one else wanted to take a chance on me. I am truly thankful for my UVA family."
Albert, 32, was traded from the Miami Dolphins to the Jaguars in March. He spent the previous three years in Miami and earned the second of his two Pro Bowl berths in 2015.
"This is such a special league and it's been an honor and a privilege to play this sport professionally for the past nine years. I wish Coach [Doug] Marrone and my Jacksonville teammates the best of luck on their journey this season. During my short stint in Jacksonville, I quickly realized that they are working incredibly hard to turn the corner and I truly believe that they will find success in the coming years.
"I look forward to returning to Miami, the place that I now call 'home,' and running my businesses, while giving back to the community. While this chapter of my life is coming to an end, my story is still going and I hope you'll follow along. I will be furthering and finishing my education. GOD BLESS AND GODSPEED."
A 2008 first-round pick, Albert spent his first six seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He emerged as a starting left tackle from his rookie season until the end of his career in Miami, playing as a reserve in only two of his 120 career games—both in the 2012 campaign.
While rarely mentioned among the NFL's best left tackles, he was consistently effective when in the lineup. Albert even seemed to get better after coming to Miami in what should have been the latter part of his prime.
It's unclear why Albert chose to leave the Jaguars, but the roots may have been in his contractual situation. The Jaguars did not give him a new deal and could have cut him at the end of training camp without owing him a cent. His $8.9 million base salary was non-guaranteed.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that if Albert stays retired, he owes the Jaguars $3.4 million in signing bonus money—$1.7 million for both 2017 and 2018.
Some Jacksonville blogs were already speculating about his status with the team, so Albert may have chosen to walk away now rather than go through another grueling camp.