Retiring was never a real option for Neal


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The emotion that follows a playoff loss gets the best of a lot of players.

And Stephen Neal may have let that happen back on Jan. 10.

After the Patriots were run off their own field against the Ravens, Neal, now 33, discussed the idea of retiring with the media. According to his agent, Neil Cornrich, the thought of that was never never real serious.

“He really all along felt like he had a good year, but he was frustrated with the way it ended,” Cornrich said a few minutes ago. “I can tell you he’s very excited about the opportunity to continue on and hopefully help the Patriots win another Super Bowl, if he ends up back with them next year.

“Stephen’s a winner. … That’s what he expects. He expects it of himself. … I don’t think (the retirement talk) was ever serious. He likes to finish as a winner, and it’s tough when that doesn’t happen.”

Cornrich pointed us to some numbers on Neal at Pro Football Focus, which put him in the upper echelon of NFL guards. And that’s why he feels confident that Neal will hit the free-agent market with plenty of demand for his services. Does he want to return to New England? Well, sure, he does …

“He’s tremendously grateful to coach (Bill) Belichick for the opportunity the Patriots provided for him to develop and transition from world-class wrestler to professional football player,” Cornrich said. “But we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

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