After taking a few weeks to mull his future, longtime Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross has decided to retire, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Person reports that Gross will make an official announcement tomorrow, and the club has confirmed the Wednesday press conference.
Gross, 33, spent his entire 11-year career with the Panthers, starting all 167 games he played for the team since being drafted eighth overall in 2003. The Utah alum consistently graded as one of the league’s best tackles according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics, and earned three Pro Bowl berths, including one in 2013.
Gross had initially planned to play through 2014, but when the Panthers restructured his contract, it was set up to void this offseason, meaning the veteran was faced with a decision on whether or not to continue his career. Had he decided to keep playing, Gross almost certainly would’ve returned to Carolina.
As I noted yesterday in our look at the free agent market for offensive tackles, Panthers right tackle Byron Bell is also a free agent this offseason, albeit a restricted one. With Gross headed for retirement and Bell’s future not certain, tackle figures to be a primary area of focus for the team in the draft and perhaps in free agency.