NEW YORK (AP) — New York Jets guard Alex Lewis is retiring from playing football, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision.
The 29-year-old Lewis last practiced on Aug. 5, when he came off the field with what coach Robert Saleh said was a head injury. The offensive lineman was placed on the exempt/left squad list the following day.
ESPN first reported Lewis’ retirement Wednesday. The person who confirmed the move to The Associated Press spoke on condition of anonymity because neither Lewis nor the team had announced the decision.
Lewis was entering his third season with the Jets, who acquired him from Baltimore for a seventh-round draft pick in 2019. He took over at left guard that year when Kelechi Osemele was injured and started 12 games. Lewis, whom Jets general manager Joe Douglas knew from their time together with the Ravens, was rewarded for his solid play with a three-year, $18.6 million contract extension.
He began last season as the starting left guard, but was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list after playing nine games. That came after Lewis reportedly had a disagreement with then-coach Adam Gase during a practice and sought medical help.
Lewis was designated to return last December, but didn’t play again last season. He took a pay cut during the offseason and was expected to back up rookie Alijah Vera-Tucker, the No. 14 overall pick, at left guard and was also competing for the right guard spot.
The move to put Lewis on the exempt/left squad list prevented the offensive lineman from playing this season. He also didn’t count against the Jets’ roster, and his salary doesn’t count against this year’s cap.
“He’s going through some things that are much greater than football,” Saleh said on Aug. 7, adding that the team was “leaving the lines of communication open” for Lewis to potentially return at some point.
Lewis was a fourth-round pick by Baltimore out of Nebraska in 2016. He spent his first three NFL seasons with the Ravens, missing 2017 with a shoulder injury, before being traded to the Jets. Lewis played in 44 games, including 39 starts.
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