Two-time Super Bowl champion running back Sony Michel decided to retire on the opening weekend of training camp with the Los Angeles Rams, coach Sean McVay announced Saturday. In response to Michel’s retirement, the Rams signed veteran running back Royce Freeman on Saturday.
The Rams re-signed Michel for his second stint with the team last month. McVay said they had a conversation on Saturday morning in which Michel informed the team of his decision.
“What a great career this guy has had,” McVay said. “The epitome of a pro, a great competitor, and his next chapter is going to be exciting. He’s got so many gifts that he can offer to people, and so we’ll wish him the best.”
The 28-year-old Michel was entering his sixth NFL season after a four-year college career at Georgia. He won a Super Bowl ring in his rookie season with the New England Patriots, and he earned a second championship with the Rams three years later.
Michel spent last season as a backup with the Los Angeles Chargers before re-signing with the Rams. He was expected to be the primary backup to Cam Akers this season, but Freeman will now take Michel’s place as a veteran running back to join Akers and young players Kyren Williams and Zach Evans on the depth chart.
“It’s a bummer, but his body is feeling like it’s talking to him, and I have nothing but respect and appreciation for the competitor that he is,” McVay said. “I love Sony, and we’ll continue to stay in touch, but we’ll look to add somebody in that running back room.”
Michel was a first-round pick by the Patriots in 2018, and he scored the only touchdown in their 13-3 victory over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. He rushed for at least 900 yards in each of his first two seasons with New England, and he added 845 yards for the Rams in the 2021 regular season.
Michel rushed for 3,243 yards and 18 touchdowns in his five NFL seasons. He also had a standout career at Georgia, and was an integral part of the 2017 team that won the SEC and reached the College Football Playoff national championship game.
Freeman joined his fourth NFL team in six pro seasons Sunday. He was with the Houston Texans for the past 1 1/2 seasons, spending most of 2022 on the practice squad.
Freeman has 1,407 career yards rushing. After a four-year career at Oregon, the Southern California native was a third-round pick of the Denver Broncos and started eight games as a rookie while rushing for a career-high 521 yards.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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