James White has been one of he New England Patriots’ best players since joining the team as a fourth-round draft pick in 2014. Eight seasons and three championships later, the 30-year-old has decided to call it a career: White took to social media on Thursday to announce his retirement.
With White riding off into the sunset, the Patriots are left without one of their most experience and well-respected players. So, let’s take a closer look at what his retirement means from a team perspective.
Another cornerstone of Dynasty 2.0 says goodbye... Entering 2022 training camp, the Patriots had only three players on their roster who had been with the team throughout its three Super Bowl wins between the 2014 and 2018 seasons: special teamer Matthew Slater, safety Devin McCourty and — you guessed it — James White. With the latter now retired, and with both Slater and McCourty probably following him within the next one or two years, the last memories of the early Dynasty 2.0 will soon be gone from the team.
...as does yet another team captain. White was not only one of the Patriots’ most experienced players, he also was a team captain each of the last four seasons. He is actually not the only captain to depart this year: linebacker Dont’a Hightower, another three-time champ, also remains unsigned as of right now. How those two leadership vacancies will be filled remains to be seen, but there are some candidates: Hightower’s captaincy will likely go to Ja’Whaun Bentley, while Damien Harris is a candidate to take over White’s.
The receiving back role is fully up for grabs now. From a football perspective, the Patriots now have to replace one of the best receiving backs in recent NFL memory. As is the case with the potential captains, there are some candidates for this role as well: free agency acquisition Ty Montgomery helped fill it in training camp, while White was still on the PUP list, with fourth-round rookie Pierre Strong Jr. looking promising as of late as well; Rhamondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor are also in the mix. Regardless of who will fill his massive shoes, White has been as reliable as any member of the New England offense and replacing him will not be easy.
New England increases its cap space. White’s retirement also has a financial impact on the Patriots: according to Miguel Benzan, their salary cap space will increase by $405,000 and is now at $5.48 million. His spot on the Top-51 list, meanwhile, will go to wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Additionally, New England’s cap space in 2023 also went up by $1.63 million.
Only one player might have to get cut next week. With White no longer part of the equation, the Patriots’ roster currently sits at 86 active players. That means that only one member of the team might receive the dreaded phone call next that he’d been cut. By next Tuesday 4 p.m. ET, after all, New England and the other teams in the league will need to reduce rosters from 90 to 85 players.
Even though White’s active playing career is over, he will remain a part of the Patriots and their history books: one of the best running backs the organization has ever had, he is a lock to one day be inducted into the team Hall of Fame. Despite a backlog of players worthy of consideration as well, White did enough during his eight-year career to maybe receive the red jacket as early as 2026.