Only eight days after they signed him to a one-year free agency contract in mid-May that was worth $3.5 million, the New England Patriots had to watch offensive tackle Jared Veldheer announce his retirement from pro football after nine seasons in the NFL. With the November 30 deadline to return to the league again this season approaching fast, however, it seems as if the 32-year-old has changed his mind.
As first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Veldheer is planning to reenter the league in the coming days and “looking to help a team in need of an offensive lineman.” As a result of his decision to end his retirement after just six months, the Patriots have released him from their reserve/retired list on Tuesday — a move that has virtually no impact on the team and just like placing him on the list in the first place is only procedural in nature.
Given the length of his tenure, Veldheer’s decision to retire shortly after arriving in New England did not impact the foundation of the Patriots’ 2019 roster. It certainly hurt the team from a depth perspective, however, considering that his position was facing some questions at the time: 2018 starter Trent Brown was gone, his replacement — Isaiah Wynn — was coming off a year-long stint on injured reserve, and rookie Yodny Cajuste was rehabbing after offseason surgery.
With Veldheer not available, the Patriots had to turn to the likes of starting left guard Joe Thuney and journeyman Dan Skipper to fill the left tackle spot over the course of the summer and before Wynn’s eventual return. As depth options, the team also brought Marshall Newhouse and Korey Cunningham on board — with the former starting eight games in place of an injured Wynn. Given Newhouse’s struggles, one could wonder if Veldheer would have been an upgrade.
Now, we might be able to find out if he is still able to play at a high level in the NFL: Veldheer will go through the waiver wire following his release and could be claimed by any team. Whether that team is the Patriots remains to be seen, but it would not be surprising if they decided against bringing Veldheer back after he missed all of summer and has essentially no chemistry with the other offensive linemen on the roster.