After spending 11 seasons with the New England Patriots, veteran safety Patrick Chung has officially retired from the NFL.
The New England Patriots selected Patrick Chung in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Coming out of Oregon, Chung set the record for the most defensive starts in school history with 51. And was a two-time First-Team All-Pac-10 member in 2007 and 2008.
The Numbers at Oregon
Chung had a very impressive college career for the Ducks. And perhaps that’s what made him a target for the Patriots in the draft. Chung totaled 384 tackles (19 for loss), nine interceptions, and four sacks from 2005-2008. Chung became a durable returner and therefor was among the top of the NCAA in punt return stats in 2006.
To add to his already impressive resume, Chung had great combine numbers. The main topic of discussion was that Chung ran the 40 Yard Dash in 4.49 seconds. However, Chung also showed his strength by putting up 25 reps on the bench press. Chung shaped up to be a solid strong safety prospect at 5’11” and 212 lbs.
There’s three main factors that coach Bill Belichick and his staff look for in regards to any possible player joining the team: versatility, durability, and availability. If a player doesn’t check off all three of these boxes, the chances are high he won’t even be looked at by the New England Patriots.
Most importantly for the Pats… Chung checked off more boxes than they anticipated.
Chung’s Patriots Career
Chung tallied 719 tackles, 12 quarterback hits, 11 interceptions, and 4.5 sacks in 141 career games for the Patriots. He ranks in the top 10 for the most tackles in team history and in the top 20 for the most tackles for loss in team history.
The three-time Super Bowl winning safety will forever be one of the toughest Patriots of all-time. As an undersized, but strong and durable safety, Chung took pride in stepping down into the box and playing like a linebacker. Because he wanted to be as physically close to the action as possible.
Chung could do it all for the Patriots. There was no task ever too large that he couldn’t handle. And Belichick admired that the most about him. I always found it most impressive how well he could hold his own against these giant offensive linemen in the NFL.
Chung and Belichick’s Relationship
In addition to always being quite successful on the field for the Patriots, there was a time in 2018 that Belichick referred to Chung as being one of the best players in the league.
“Chung, I’ve talked about Chung a lot. The guy is a really good football player. He’s one of the best players in the league, one of the best players on our team. He does a lot of things very well and has done them that way for a long time. We’re lucky we have him. He’s an outstanding player in all the things that he does. We put a lot on him, and he always comes through.” – Bill Belichick, per Henry McKenna of Patriots Wire
There’s no denying the mutual admiration between Belichick and Chung. Chung became so advanced in the defense. Therefore, he would practice with every defensive position group during his Patriots career.
“He works with everybody, so he works with the corners, the safeties, the linebackers. He even gets involved with the defensive linemen because of his proximity to the line of scrimmage on a lot of plays. He’s involved in the kicking game. Really, he’s played in every phase of the kicking game for us – punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return. He’s a very dependable player.” – Bill Belichick via Patriots Press Conference
A Few More Chung Tidbits
Chung became an integral piece to the second part of the Patriots’ double-dynasty. Although he never received any All-Pro honors during his career, Chung’s role in New England’s defense was more than solidified over the last decade. Chung is a member of the Patriots’ 2010’s All-Decade Team and the only player in NFL history to make it to the playoffs in each of his first 11 seasons.
Here is the statement Chung released to announce his retirement from his Instagram.
“I want to say thank you to the Patriots organization, my family, my fans, coaches, just everyone. I’m in tears writing this but I’ve decided to hang up the cleats. Bill, Mr. Kraft (mean mug), thank you for giving me the opportunity to play for your team for 11 years. I love you Bill for teaching me life on and off the field, I will not forget that. To my teammates, trainers, EQ team, video guys, meal room employees, janitors, etc., I love you guys and ladies. Thank you for being the rock to the organization. For cleaning up, feeding, taking care of me for 11 years. You will forever be family. But it’s time to start a new life. Patriot until I die!!! Love you all.”
In short, Chung opted out of the 2020 season because of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, it’s fair to say that his retirement was expected to happen. As a result, the New England Patriots re-equipped their safety position. The team drafted Kyle Dugger with their top draft choice in 2020. As well as signing free agent Jalen Mills this offseason.
Above all, Patriots fans should be happy and thankful that Chung was part of this organization for 11 years.
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