Laurent Duvernay-Tardif pausing NFL career to begin medical residency; says he is not retiring

MONTREAL -- Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is putting his NFL career on hold -- again.

The 31-year-old Canadian offensive lineman told The Canadian Press on Wednesday he will begin a residency program at a Montreal-area hospital next month.

Duvernay-Tardif has been an unrestricted NFL free agent since March after finishing last season with the New York Jets. He said he isn't retiring from football, just taking care of medical requirements needed to become a physician. The guard plans to reassess both his football interest as well as that of NFL clubs in September.

"I'm going to prioritize medicine ... and we'll see in September if there's a fit," Duvernay-Tardif said in a telephone interview. "After eight years in the NFL, and I don't want to sound pretentious by saying this, but I think I've earned the right to do what's best for me and not just for football and kind of bet on myself a little bit.

"I'm really comfortable with the risk, and I'm pretty confident there's going to be an offer on the table in September if I want it. And if I want it I'll take it. If medicine is going well and I feel like I've got to be out there in front of 80,000 people to play the sport I love, well, I'll go, but I think I want it to be more on my terms."

Shortly after helping the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl in February 2020, Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to opt out of the following season, leaving the team to battle the COVID-19 pandemic while working at a Montreal long-term care facility.

The 6-foot-5, 321-pound Duvernay-Tardif returned to Kansas City last season expecting to battle for his starting spot but was sidelined for a month after breaking a hand in training camp. In November, he waived his no-trade clause, allowing Kansas City to deal him to the Jets. He started seven of his eight games at right guard for the Jets.

Duvernay-Tardif received his doctorate in medicine and a master's degree in surgery from McGill University in 2018.