Patriots defensive lineman Armond Armstead has retired from professional football.
The 23-year-old former University of Southern California and Canadien Football League player had been sidelined with an infection for the 2013 season. For those outside of the Patriots organization, he had been seen sporadically at Patriots facilities in Foxborough after being placed on the reserve/non-football injury list Aug. 26, 2013, participating in one open OTAs session before disappearing again.
But his presence was felt, at least by Patriots coach Bill Belichick who has remarked on multiple occasions that Armstead had gone through quite a bit of adversity. He said as much again on Wednesday in a prepared statement.
"It has been a pleasure being around Armond, as he gave everything he could to play for us," Belichick said. "Armond worked extremely hard since joining us last February. He's had a lot of adversity personally that he's had to deal with – unusual compared to most other players – but he's always had a great attitude, worked hard and really did everything we asked him to do. While it is unfortunate he will not be able to play football, Armond is an outstanding young man who has a very bright future in whatever path he chooses."
Armstead, who was signed Feb. 1, 2013, was considered to be the equivalent of a top draft choice coming out of the CFL, where he played for one year after suffering a heart attack in college. At 6-5 and 305 pounds, he was expected to compete for a starting position at defensive tackle behind Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. But that never materialized.
His retirement frees up the possibility for other young defensive tackles to make the team in training camp, which starts next week, including Chris Jones and Joe Vellano.
Armstead counted as $420,000 against the team's 2014 cap space.