It Looks As Though Zach Strief, One Of The Last Remaining Members Of The Super Bowl Champion Saints, Is Retiring
While this isn't the greatest of news for a Saints' team whose offensive line depth could also be dealt a sizable blow depending on the type of cash that flows Senio Kelemete's way in free agency, I will say the following on behalf of Zach Strief. If, after months of deliberation, he does indeed decide to walk away from this team when things are as good as they have been in years then it's a choice that was undoubtedly made for the right reasons. Having gone through no shortage of crappy times only to come out on the other side of them with a legitimate opportunity to become one of only three (four, if Chase Daniel stays around) Saints to win two Super Bowls in New Orleans, he has all the incentive in the world to work his way back onto the field. So, if the mental and physical hurdles that he - more than anyone - knows he'd have to overcome to take on a new role as a high priority backup for a team that certainly seems poised for bigger and better things appear to be too much for him to take on then they probably are.
Selfishly, I want to baselessly deny the accuracy of this report. Not only because it comes from Ian Rapoport, but also because I hate to see injuries bring an end to someone's career. After a rough go of things in 2015, Zach Strief bounced back and proved that he's still a hell of an offensive tackle when he's at full strength. Getting back to full strength and remaining there for the entirety of what would be his 13th(!) NFL season appears to be the problem, and - after all he's done in coaching up the players that were unable to take his starting job until an awkward blindside hit did - who can blame him for it being a problem he'd rather not deal with. Especially when his next venture is in the part ownership of a business where he can truly enjoy watching the franchise that doesn't need to see another snap to consider him a beloved member of it...
It's obviously not "goodbye", but if it really is "see you later" then I think I speak for all Saints fans in saying we are appreciative that it didn't come any sooner.