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Free agency departee Ted Karras calls playing for the Patriots ‘the honor of a lifetime’ in goodbye statement to New England

Related: Patriots free agent Ted Karras to sign a one-year, $4 million contract with the Dolphins

NFL: AFC Championship-Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When Ted Karras was selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round in 2016, the expectation due to his draft status was that he would be a fringe roster player or possible backup at best. Just four months after he joined the team, however, the Illinois product was part of the team’s starting offensive line in Week 1 as a stand-in for Shaq Mason. It was the first and only start of Karras’ rookie career, and one of five over his first three years in the NFL.

His career trajectory changed drastically in August 2019, however, when New England’s starting center, David Andrews, was hospitalized and later diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. With Andrews out for the year, the team’s versatile interior backup was elevated to the starting role: Karras served as the Patriots’ center for 16 of their 17 games — missing one regular season contest due to a minor knee injury — and proved himself a serviceable replacement.

The 27-year-old therefore entered unrestricted free agency this week with plenty of momentum on his side. While a downgrade from Andrews, who was one of the best centers in all of football before his year-long stint on injured reserve, he showed that he was capable of playing at a high level and with an increased workload. Quarterback Tom Brady may have masked some deficiencies, but Karras showed he could be a starter-level player.

Seeing the Miami Dolphins therefore sign him to a one-year, $4 million contract (despite having a two-year offer from the Patriots on the table as well) did not come as a surprise. Karras is now headed to New England’s divisional rivals, but not before taking to social media to bid farewell to the organization that gave him his start in pro football and with which he earned two Super Bowl rings while appearing in a combined 70 games with 21 starts:

New England,

It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve in this organization and be a part of your community. This program is a standard for humility, brotherhood, and winning football.

Thank you to the Kraft family, Coach Belichick, Coach Scarnecchia, Coach McDaniels and all the staff that have supported and believed in me to start my career.

I am so grateful for the relationships we have built. My teammates and friends here have been of the highest order, and I am so blessed to have so many brothers for life.

Thanks fellas, see you soon!