Patriots fullback Develin retires

New England Patriots fullback James Develin has announced his retirement from the NFL

New England Patriots fullback James Develin announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday, citing complications from a neck injury which cut short his season last year.

The powerful 31-year-old was an unsung part of the Patriots offense in recent seasons, with his ability to make yardage contributing to three Super Bowl victories in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 seasons.

"Due to unforeseen complications with the injury that ended my season last year, I have decided it is both in my and my family's interest to retire from the game of football," Develin wrote on Instagram.

"I am incredibly proud of my journey within the sport and I will be forever indebted to the game that gave me so much."

Develin joined the New England Patriots in 2012 after an unconventional route into the league.

He played his entire college career as a defensive lineman before later converting to offense, starting in the indoor Arena Football League before moving to the now defunct United Football League.

He broke into the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010 before later signing for the Patriots, playing 83 regular season games with 31 starts.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick led the tributes to Develin, describing him as "one of the most appreciated and respected players we have ever had."

"A tribute to the impact James had on our success, of the five seasons in which he appeared in every game, we won three championships," Belichick said.

"Any team would be fortunate to have a James Develin type on its roster but the reality is he is a rarity and we are very fortunate he was a Patriot."