Former Florida Gators stars Jordan Reed, Marcus Gilbert retire after long NFL careers

By Adam Silverstein
April 26, 2021
Former Florida Gators stars Jordan Reed, Marcus Gilbert retire after long NFL careers

Image Credit: ESPN Images

Jordan Reed and Marcus Gilbert, two key players who helped lead the Florida Gators through a period of massive success, officially retired from the NFL this month after lengthy careers as professionals. Neither anticipates returning to the sideline after this season.

Reed, 30, stood out as one of the top tight ends in the NFL after arriving on the scene in 2013, but several concussions and an injury-plagued career cut short his time on the field. He never played a full, 16-game NFL season but saw his greatest success in 2015 when he caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns over 14 games for what is now known as the Washington Football Team. Reed was drafted No. 85 overall by Washington and spent the first six years of his career there.

He played nine games in 2013 before being placed on injured reserve with post-concussion symptoms. After his standout 2015 season, he signed a five-year, $50 million extension with Washington and was again successful despite playing 12 games in 2016. Reed barely saw the field in 2017 and 2018 due to injury. The hope was that Reed would bounce back in 2019, but he suffered the seventh concussion of his career in Washington’s third preseason game and remained in concussion protocol until the following season. The San Francisco 49ers signed Reed to a one-year contract in 2020, and though he caught four touchdowns — including two in Week 2 — he sprained his MCL in early October and never returned to the field.

Reed only played one playoff game during his career but compiled 3,602 yards and 28 touchdowns on 492 receptions, starting 36 of the 75 games he played. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2016. His retirement came at the urging of physicians after reviews of brain scans.

“I was pretty sure I was going to keep playing; I was feeling good about where I was at,” Reed told ESPN. “But then I had some lingering effects and sought out professional help to get diagnosed. They told me it was not a good idea to keep playing. I agreed with them.”

Gilbert, 33, started 87 of the 88 games he played over 10 NFL seasons. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 63 overall pick in 2011, reuniting as a starting offensive lineman with former Gators center Maurkice Pouncey, who was picked by the team one year earlier. Pouncey and Gilbert became stalwarts of the Steelers’ line — often considered the best in the NFL — as they protected quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Though Gilbert — a member of Florida’s 2009 BCS Championship team — was named Pittsburgh’s rookie of the year in 2011, individual awards did not come his way. However, he was an integral part of the Steelers’ offensive success. He was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in 2019 and spent the the final year of his career out West as Gilbert opted out of playing the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pouncey and his brother, Mike Pouncey, retired from the NFL on Feb. 21 after 21 combined seasons in the league.

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