Defensive lineman Ron Brace, a 2009 second-round draft choice of the New England Patriots, has died at the age of 29.
Brace's death was confirmed by the Springfield (Massachusetts) Police Department, which said an investigation is ongoing.
The cause of death is not suspicious, Springfield Police Captain Robert Strzempek told MassLive.com.
The Boston Globe reported that Brace died of an apparent heart attack.
"We were deeply saddened to hear the news this morning of Ron Brace's death," the Patriots said in a statement. "Seven years ago tomorrow, we drafted Ron after his standout career at Boston College. During his Patriots career, the Springfield native was always eager to volunteer and give back in our communities, especially when those community initiatives were held in Western Mass. It is difficult to believe that someone so young and in the prime of his life is no longer with us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ron's family, friends and the many former teammates who will mourn Ron's passing."
Boston College special teams coordinator/defensive line coach Al Washington, who played on the Eagles' defensive line with Brace, said on Twitter earlier Sunday that he had spoken with Brace two weeks ago to discuss coaching with his former teammate.
The 6-foot-3, 330-pound Brace played in 39 games (seven starts) for the Patriots from 2009 to 2012. He had signed with the Washington Redskins in 2013 but didn't play a regular-season game again.
Some of Brace's former Patriots teammates also expressed their sympathies on Twitter.
Rest in Peace bro...I'll always remember you smiling and telling jokes...gone way too soon 🙏🏿🙏🏿 (D-Mac) pic.twitter.com/jLTFtNkpWA— Devin&Jason McCourty (@McCourtyTwins) April 24, 2016
Gone way to soon. R.I.P big fella. pic.twitter.com/hlsAFTvsZo— Tavon Wilson (@TavonWilson27) April 24, 2016