Falcons veteran offensive guard Chris Chester announced on Thursday he’s retiring from the NFL after 11 seasons.
A former second-round pick (No. 56 overall) of the Baltimore Ravens in 2006, Chester told ESPN he’ll expand on his decision to retire at a later time.
Although he was never a Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection, Chester was considered a solid contributor who had been a regular starter since 2008, staring 143 of 169 games he played in during his career.
Chester started 32 regular-season games at right guard for the Falcons the last two seasons, along with three postseason starts during Atlanta’s run to Super Bowl LI. He overcame shoulder surgery between the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
With Chester’s exit, the Falcons now need to fill the void at right guard. Head coach Dan Quinn expressed confidence in returning players Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer, although neither has started a game in the NFL. Garland, who has played in 24 career games, is listed as a backup center but showed versatility by playing defensive tackle last season. Schweitzer, a sixth-round draft pick last season, was inactive for every game during his rookie year.
The Falcons also added former Indianapolis Colts starting guard Hugh Thornton during free agency one a one-year contract.