JC Tretter, former Cleveland Browns center, retires after 8 seasons in NFL but remains NFLPA president

Former Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter has retired from football after eight seasons in the NFL but will remain in his role as president of the NFL Players Association.

Tretter, 31, announced his decision Thursday on Twitter, saying he is leaving the game "on my own terms" but also that he is "looking forward to doubling down on my work as NFLPA president."

The Browns released Tretter in a salary-cap-clearing move in March, just after he was reelected to a second term as NFLPA president. Tretter said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that he believes his work with the union played a role in him not being re-signed after the Browns released him in March.

"There are teams right now that I would say are desperate for a center based off how camp's going,'' Tretter told Sports Illustrated. "Still no calls.''

Tretter started every game but one -- due to COVID-19 in 2021 -- for the Browns over the past five seasons despite battling knee injuries that limited how much he could practice. With Tretter anchoring the middle, the Browns' offensive line ranked among the league's best in 2020 and 2021.

The Browns, however, released Tretter to clear $8.25 million against the salary cap and replaced him with Nick Harris, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on the second play of the preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Instead of making a move to re-sign Tretter, the Browns bumped up reserve Ethan Pocic to the starting center spot.

While he was still playing, Tretter thought his efforts off the field would have an impact on his future.

"Guys would be like, 'Oh, like how are your knees doing?''' Tretter told SI. "And I always said, 'My NFLPA job is gonna end my career well before my knees end my career.'''

As NFLPA president, Tretter helped guide the union through two turbulent years amid the pandemic, collaborating with the league on protocols to keep players safe.

Shortly after Tretter's first term began, the league and union agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement that added a 17th game to the regular-season schedule and expanded the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams.

The new CBA resulted in higher minimum salaries, improved benefits for current and former players, and expanded rosters and practice squads. The deal also increased the players' share of league revenue from 47% before the CBA to 48.5% last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.