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>>Patriots OL Retires

New England Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly has decided to retire.

Multiple outlets, including the Boston Herald and ESPN, reported the news on Thursday.

"It's important to me to leave the game healthy," Connolly told ESPN. "I'm able to be here for my kids and walk away on my own terms. I feel like I got everything I could out of football in playing 10 years, winning a Super Bowl, and playing alongside some truly great players."

 width=The 32-year-old Connolly entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005 out of Southeast Missouri State. After being cut from the Jaguars in September 2007, he joined New England's practice squad.

Connolly, a captain on the Patriots' Super Bowl championship team in 2014, appeared in 89 regular-season games (71 starts) in his career. He also started in 11 playoff games (including two Super Bowls).

Connolly acknowledged winning a Super Bowl helped him with his decision to leave the game.

He became an unrestricted free agent following the season and visited the Buccaneers in March before deciding to end his playing career.

>>Steelers Sign DE Heyward To Six Year Contract

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed defensive end Cameron Heyward to a six-year contract, the team announced on Thursday.

Last season with the Steelers, Heyward set a career-high with 7 1/2 sacks and added 53 tackles in all 16 games.

The 31st overall selection of Pittsburgh in the 2011 draft, the Ohio State product has appeared in all 64 games over his four seasons in the NFL, tied for the third-longest active streak amongst defensive ends in the league.

He has amassed 143 tackles and 15 sacks, along with 12 passes defensed.

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