Longtime Saints OL Zach Strief announces retirement

If and when Drew Brees ultimately re-ups with the New Orleans Saints, a face he's grown so accustomed to seeing in the locker room won't be there in 2018.

Longtime Saints offensive tackle Zach Strief, whose 2006 rookie year in New Orleans was the same year Brees came over in free agency from the Chargers, announced Monday he's retiring.

A seventh-round pick in the 2006 draft, Strief spent his first five seasons with the Saints as a reserve blocker. In 2011, he got his chance to be the regular starter at right tackle, and he ended up being a mainstay on the O-line, blocking for Brees in all of the ensuing six years. From 2011 to 2017, he started 87 games, including the first two of this past season before a torn ACL and MCL ended his year prematurely.

With the emergence of young tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk, even if the 34-year-old Strief were to make a full recovery from his severe knee injury, his playing time would have waned. Strief joked about that in his press conference Monday, saying his retirement is "Ryan Ramczyk's fault."

"Congratulations to Zach Strief on being arguably probably one of the best players I've had a chance to coach, one of the best teammates and someone our whole organization and fanbase can be proud of," coach Sean Payton said in a statment. "As a person, as a man, as a friend, and as a head coach, I thank Zach. He will always be one of us."

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