Almost three years ago, the San Francisco 49ers made Weston Richburg the highest-paid center in NFL history. On Wednesday, Richburg's time with the Niners came to an end, as he announced his retirement from the NFL.
Richburg had an injury-plagued stint with the 49ers that culminated in his missing the entire 2020 season because of a lingering shoulder injury and his continued efforts to recover from a torn right patellar tendon suffered in Week 14 of the 2019 season.
"I consider myself extremely blessed to have played in this league and am so grateful for the experiences over the last seven years," Richburg said in a statement released by the 49ers. "Injuries are an unfortunate part of this game and I've reached a point where my body won't allow me to continue playing and competing at a high level. I was able to play some good football all over the country and was fortunate enough to finish my career with the greatest franchise in sports. From top to bottom, the 49ers organization is comprised of some of the best men, women and athletes I've ever been around. To be just a small part of an NFC Championship and Super Bowl run is something I will never forget."
As it turned out, that Week 14 contest against the New Orleans Saints was the final game of Richburg's 49ers tenure. Richburg, who turns 30 on July 9, also recently had hip surgery. In three seasons in San Francisco, Richburg started 28 games.
After four years with the New York Giants, who selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, Richburg signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the 49ers in the opening days of 2018 free agency. The Niners reworked that deal during the 2019 season to save some cap space, leaving Richburg with a scheduled cap charge of almost $11.5 million in 2021.
Since Richburg retired after June 1, the Niners can spread out the $7 million in remaining dead money evenly over the cap in 2021 and 2022. They will save $1.075 million in cap space for 2021 upon Richburg's retirement.
"Weston was someone who made not only our offense, but our entire team better," 49ers general manager John Lynch said in the statement. "He led by example through his detailed approach and the toughness in which he played the game. He was a tremendous player for our organization and will be missed both on the field and in the locker room."
The 49ers signed Alex Mack in free agency to take over the starting center duties.