Ali Marpet is coming off the best season of his career. He plans for it to be his last.
The Buccaneers guard announced via Instagram on Sunday that he is retiring from the NFL. The 28-year-old Marpet was a Pro Bowler in 2021, his seventh season.
"After seven formidable years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I've come to the decision to retire from the game that has given me so much," he posted. "This organization and the people surrounding it have helped not only fulfill a dream, but also helped build me into the person I am today. I've made Tampa Bay my home and I look forward to serving this community in the coming years. To the coaches and teammates, family and friends, an Instagram post simply can't express the profound impact you've had on me. I'm eternally grateful. Thank you Tampa Bay."
The Bucs claimed Marpet in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, making him the first player selected from Hobart College since 1937, and the highest-drafted Division III prospect of all time. Tampa Bay was richly rewarded for its risk. Marpet started in all 101 games he appeared in, serving at both guard and center, while missing just 12 games. In 2020, he was part of the stout offensive line that protected Tom Brady and helped propel the Bucs to the Super Bowl LV crown.
"It has been one of my greatest professional thrills to see his rapid ascension from a small college standout into one of the NFL's best all-around offensive linemen," general manager Jason Licht said in a statement.
Coach Bruce Arians added: "I can't say enough about what Ali has meant to our team over the three seasons since my arrival. He has been the consummate professional and has been a rock for us in the interior of our offensive line."
After managing to bring back all 22 starters from their 2020 title team, the Bucs have now lost two of them (Brady) to retirement this offseason. Marpet's departure frees up $10 million in cash for the club in 2022, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. His absence might cost more. Marpet had an 84.1 Pro Football Focus grade in 2021, which ranked sixth among 70 guards with 500-plus offensive snaps, per NFL Research. Moreover, Tamp Bay allowed the fewest sacks of any team last year (23), despite leading the league with 762 dropbacks.