Patriots lose another key piece to their title teams, as fullback James Develin retires

Not many teams use the fullback to a significant level anymore, but the New England Patriots do.

And the Patriots lost their longtime fullback on Monday.

James Develin, who joined the Patriots in 2012 and was part of three Super Bowl championship teams, announced his retirement on Instagram.

The Patriots had been preparing for this news, signing former Packers fullback Danny Vitale in free agency. Yet, it’s still another piece of their championship past moving on.

James Develin announces retirement

Develin suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of last season. He went on injured reserve.

In announcing his retirement, Develin cited “unforeseen complications” from the injury.

Develin was used on about 30 percent of the Patriots’ offensive snaps most seasons after becoming their primary fullback. He had just 15 rushing attempts and 31 receptions in all those games he played with New England, but in typical Patriots fashion Develin had a job and did it well.

New England Patriots fullback James Develin (46) announced his retirement. (AP Photo/Stew Milne, File)

Patriots’ talent drain continues

The Patriots have lost a lot of key players this offseason. Tom Brady is off to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kyle Van Noy signed with the Miami Dolphins, Jamie Collins and Duron Harmon landed with the Detroit Lions and Stephen Gostkowski was cut. And after a year off in retirement, Rob Gronkowski came back and was traded to the Buccaneers.

Develin is far from the biggest name on that list, but he was an important cog over most of the decade. The Patriots are going to have to reinvent themselves starting in 2020.

Even at fullback.

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