Zach Orr plotting return to NFL after neck problems forced early retirement

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Zach Orr is considering a return to football, and he would be an attractive and unexpected free agent if he came back.

Orr retired in January on the advice of doctors who had discovered that one of the vertebrae in his back had not fully formed. At the time, he indicated that he held out hope for a future in football. “If there’s some miracle way where I can play the game,” Orr said in his retirement announcement in January, “I promise I’d be the first one to grab my cleats again, start back training and try to find a way to get back out there.”

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Now, according to NFL Network, that time may be at hand. Orr, on the advice of other medical professionals, sought out other opinions on his back, and the results were positive: “Come to find out my condition, it is rare—.01 percent of the people have what I have—but there’s no actual evidence or facts that I’m at a higher risk than any other player,” Orr said. “And it’s actually been documented that a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems.”

Orr had 133 tackles and three interceptions last year, his third in the league and his first as a starter. And in a quirk of bureaucracy, he’s a completely unrestricted free agent. He didn’t file retirement papers, but the Ravens didn’t tender a free agent offer to him, believing he was completely done with football. Since the Ravens didn’t offer a tender, Orr is free to sign with anyone as soon as he wishes.

“As far as me physically, mentally, I’m ready to go,” Orr said. “I’m feeling better than ever. I’m feeling like I have these past offseasons and everything like that. So I’m ready to go.”

Zach Orr (54) is considering a return to football. (Getty)


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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.