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Welcome home, David Andrews! And thank you, Patrick Chung!

Related: With David Andrews back in the fold, Patriots offensive line has the makings of an elite unit

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-Opening Night Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Losing players to free agency and retirement is just part of being a fan of an NFL team. Guys you enjoy, root for, appreciate, they move on. Guys you have never heard of or spent a fair amount of time rooting against are suddenly on your team and your new best friend. It’s a cycle that repeats itself each and every March and will continue on for as long as there’s a league.

And a big part of that reality is that some losses sting more than others. Certain players entrench themselves in our collective hearts and become part of something much bigger than the odd season or two. We all got a big, walloping dose of that last year in the form of a dimple-chinned quarterback the likes of which we’ll never see again, so perhaps this free agency period doesn’t seem quite as impactful by comparison.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a very familiar pang of sadness at the news that we will no longer be seeing Patrick Chung in a New England Patriots jersey. As Chung enjoys his well-deserved retirement, we say goodbye to a player who perfectly represents who the Patriots have been over these last two decades of dominance.

But we also get the return of another player who also epitomizes the Patriot Way in David Andrews, who just inked a four year deal that will keep the anchor of the best O-line in football in New England for the foreseeable future. So it’s a great news/sad news kind of day!

David Andrews went undrafted out of Georgia in 2015, signing with the Patriots to back up second year, fourth round pick, starting Super Bowl Champion center Bryan Stork. He was given the chance at a starting job, took advantage of the opportunity, and never looked back. The center is the quarterback of the offensive line; he has to understand the blocking schemes, diagnose blitz packages, know the role of every single man to the left and right of him, and have the complete trust of the man that will be oh-so-tenderly cupping his undercarriage 40-50 times per game. Tom Brady demands a lot out of his centers, and that Andrews was able to immediately step in and become that guy is a testament to his ability and work ethic.

Andrews is a member of the Patriots All-Decade Team of the 2010s, a team captain, a multi-time Duck Boat Parade All-Star, and by all accounts, an amazing teammate. Not only that, he overcame a potentially life-threatening medical condition to return to the team in a year where many players opted out for far less, starting 12 games and representing one of the few bright spots on a struggling Patriots offense. If that doesn’t epitomize The Patriot Way, I don’t know what does. I couldn’t be happier to have him back.

On the other side of the ball, Chung represents another classic Patriots story. Selected 34th overall by the Patriots in 2009 — their first selection of the draft after a few classic Belichick pick swaps — Chung went on to have an extremely productive four year stint with the team before signing a contract with the Eagles in 2013. However, due to a combination of injuries and struggles in pass coverage, Philly released Chung after just one season — at which point he came right back to New England, ensconcing himself as arguably one of the most underrated players on the Patriots Dynasty 2.0.

A fellow member of the 2010s All-Decade Team, Chung was uniquely positioned to play that hybrid DB/linebacker/safety role that has become a staple of the Bill Belichick defense. He thrived in coverage on tight ends and receiving backs. He was an absolute thumper over the middle, a great locker room guy, and a three time Super Bowl Champion. After opting out last season due to COVID concerns and, perhaps, realizing that he’ll turn 34 this summer, he’s now able to walk away from the game on his own terms, healthy and ready for the next chapter of his life.

Welcome back, David. And thank you, Mr. Chung. Let’s go Pats.