Patriots’ Chung retires after 11 seasons, 3 Super Bowl rings

AP Sports

BOSTON (AP) — Saying “it’s time to start a new life,” New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung announced Thursday he is retiring from the NFL after 11 seasons and three Super Bowl rings.

In an Instagram post, the 33-year-old thanked coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft for drafting him out of Oregon in 2009.

“I’m in tears writing this, but I’ve decided to hang up the cleats,” Chung wrote. “Bill, for teaching me life on and off the field, I will not forget that.”

Chung had two stints in New England. His first ended in 2012 when he signed a three-year deal with the Eagles. But he stayed in Philadelphia for only one season before re-signing with the Patriots in 2014. He won a ring his first season back in Foxborough and two more in 2016 and 2018. He opted out in 2020 because of COVID-19, citing concerns for his pregnant girlfriend, a son with asthma and an elderly father.

He ends his career having appeared in 153 games with 122 starts, and finishes with 521 tackles, 11 interceptions and 4 1/2 sacks.

“It’s time to start a new life,” Chung wrote. “Patriot until I die!!! Love you all.”

Several of Chung’s former teammates took to social media to wish him well.

“Love you big bro and everything you’ve done for anyone you’ve ever been around!!!” linebacker Dont’a Hightower wrote under Chung’s post. “Appreciate the rings, the ox tails, and the countless (beers) lol. Red Coat coming soon!”

The red coat is a reference to the jacket inductees in the Patriots Hall of Fame receive. Chung was named a member of the team’s 2010s All-Decade Team.

While the Patriots will miss Chung’s toughness and versatility, they remain well-stocked at safety.

Adrian Phillips started all 16 games in Chung’s place last season alongside Devin McCourty. Free safety and 2020 second-round draft pick Kyle Dugger also had a solid rookie season.

And just this week New England agreed to terms with free agent Jalen Mills on a four-year, $24 million deal. Mills spent four of his first five seasons at cornerback. He moved to strong safety in 2020, starting 15 games and making an interception and 1 1/2 sacks.

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