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New Orleans Saints tackle Zach Strief announces retirement

Posted Mar 12, 2018

Strief was seventh-round pick in storied 2006 draft class

After 12 years with the New Orleans Saints, tackle Zach Strief has announced his retirement Monday, March 12.

Strief originally entered the NFL and joined the club as the first of two seventh round picks (210th overall) in 2006 out of Northwestern. Upon ending his NFL and Saints career, he was tied with quarterback Drew Brees for being the most tenured Saint after the 2017 season, where he wrapped up his 12th campaign. Strief appeared in 158 regular season games with 93 starts, the 11th-most games played by a Saint, third among offensive linemen. He also appeared in 10 postseason games, tied for second in club record books, with four starts.

After securing a roster spot out of training camp in 2006, Strief appeared in nine games as a rookie, making his first career start at left tackle in a win at Tampa Bay, Nov. 5, where he didn’t surrender a sack. Over the next four seasons, Strief served as a valuable blocker for New Orleans including contributing to the team’s Super Bowl XLIV Championship. In 2011, he moved into the starting lineup on a regular basis, opening all 11 regular season games and both postseason contests he played in at right tackle, a position he’d assume for his final seven seasons. In that first season as a starter, Strief, blocked for an offense that set an NFL single-season record with 7,474 yards, with the offensive line winning the 2011 Madden Protectors Award, recognizing the league’s top front five unit.

A 6-foot-7, 340-pound native of Cincinnati, Strief opened 87 regular season games and four postseason contests at right tackle from 2011-17. During this period, the Saints ranked first in total offense overall, ranking first in three of those seasons (2011, 2014 and 2016), second three times (2012-13 and 2017) and fourth in 2013. During his tenure as a starter, he led the way for the top four single-season net yards per game totals in team history. He also served as an offensive team captain five times.

Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints executive vice president/general manager

“Zach Strief has been such an important part of our organization and our team for what seems like forever and forever in a good way. Zach’s been so important to us since the time we drafted him, not only with his play on the field, but his influence in the locker room, in our entire building and in our community. Congratulations to Zach. We’re proud of him and he’ll be a part of the New Orleans Saints forever.”

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints head coach

“Congratulations to Zach Strief on being arguably probably one of the best players I’ve had a chance to coach, one of the best teammates and someone our whole organization and fanbase can be proud of. As a person, as a man, as a friend, and as a head coach, I thank Zach. He will always be one of us.”

“Zach played in college for the late, highly-respected Randy Walker at Northwestern, who I worked for when I was an assistant at Miami of Ohio (1994-95). We were building our program here in 2006 and getting started preparing for our first draft. There are a lot of phone calls that are made regarding players. I called Randy about a quarterback from their program. We talked briefly about the quarterback and Randy, who was really slow to give strong opinions on anybody, brought up Zach Strief. Randy said to me, ‘I guarantee this guy will play for you.’ After looking at the board and looking at where Zach was, we saw size, toughness, leadership and in the seventh round fortunately we selected Zach Strief to join the New Orleans Saints.

Pete Carmichael, New Orleans Saints assistant coach (2006-Present; offensive coordinator, 2009-Present)

“I remember Zach Strief from when he was first drafted in 2006, which was also my first season on the coaching staff here. His improvement was constant, developing into a highly-productive starter at right tackle for seven seasons. There are several factors to attribute to Zach’s successful career. First off, he always took great care of himself. That combined with his intelligence, work ethic and ability to study an opponent every week made him an integral part of our team and our offensive line for 12 seasons. Zach is the type of player that you always want to have on your team.”

Dan Roushar, New Orleans Saints offensive line coach

“Zach Strief has obviously been a tremendous leader for the New Orleans Saints. But if you look very closely into the offensive line room, he was the tone-setter, the way he approached the game, the ultimate professional. He gave far more than he received. I don’t think there could be a more selfless player. Zach Strief made both our position group and our football team better.”

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback (2006-present)

"I can’t say enough about what Zach Strief has meant to this team and to me personally over the last 12 years. There’s not a better teammate. Not a better leader. Not a better man. Not a better friend. He was the same person everyday and never have I known someone to have a better pulse of the team. He knew exactly what to say and when to say it…and we listened. I admire him so much for the player and teammate he was and the man he has become. I am so fortunate to have played behind him for 12 years and many of my best memories in this game include him. His journey and career should be admired and respected as he moves on to the next chapter of his life and he will always be one of the best to ever play for this great organization.”

Mark Ingram II, New Orleans Saints running back (2011-present)

“Zach Strief is a guy that came to work every day and I had the pleasure of having him block for me for my first seven years in the National Football League. He will be a hard act to follow. In addition to being a great friend, Zach was an excellent blocker and a big reason for some of the production I have been able to have here the last several years. He was a great leader and guys looked up to him. He was always honest with us and that is what you want from a teammate. He will definitely be missed, both for his play on the field as well as his leadership off of it.”

Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints tackle (2013-present)

“I want to truly thank Zach for everything he’s done for New Orleans, for the Saints and specifically for me. His leadership and unselfish approach has molded many players that have come through this program, myself included. I salute a great NFL career and will definitely miss him being around not only as a teammate, but as a friend.”

Max Unger, New Orleans Saints center (2015-Present)

“Zach Strief was the best teammate any player in the NFL could ask for. When I came here in 2015, he made my adjustment easy and as a group, thanks to his leadership and hard work, we were able to continue to grow to where we are now as a team, as an offense and as a line. Zach made myself and many of my teammates better players and I am grateful for it. His leadership and presence will definitely be missed.”

Jahri Evans, National Football League guard (New Orleans Saints 2006-16, Green Bay Packers 2017-Present)

“Congratulations to Zach on a great career. You don’t last 12 years in the National Football League without putting in some serious work. Our 2006 draft class will go down in history as one of the greatest of all-time. I’m glad we were able to share those successes together.”

Steve Gleason, New Orleans Saints safety (2000-07)

“Zach Strief is a legendary football player, not only in the New Orleans community, but also the NFL community. Zach has had a Hall of Fame career. That’s not why I love Zach. I love Zach because he’s a Hall of Fame person off the field. He’s welcoming and generous with resources. He has embraced New Orleans and has become a cornerstone of this community.”

Jon Stinchcomb, New Orleans Saints tackle (2003-10)

“I couldn’t be more proud of Zach and his amazing career. We were a part of such a special group for a number of years. He was a great teammate, a blessing in the community, a leader in the locker room and someone I’m so thankful to call him a lifelong friend.”

Jonathan Vilma, New Orleans Saints linebacker (2008-13)

“Zach was a great teammate, but a better friend. He was the nucleus in that locker room that made coming to work fun, from cracking jokes, to training camp, to talking about college football, there was never a dull moment. I can’t say enough about what it meant to me to see Zach at every charitable event I always had supporting the cause and how he stood up for me when I faced some challenges as well in 2012. He’s one of a rare breed to finish his career with one team, but it doesn’t surprise me because the Saints would not have been the same without him. Congratulations to a great man on a great football career.”

Jim Henderson, New Orleans Saints play-by-play radio broadcaster (1986-89 and 1993-2017)

“Leadership cannot be self-bestowed. It is conveyed upon a player by his teammates, coaches, fans and even reporters who witness on a regular and sustained basis his toughness, sacrifice, dedication, selflessness and accountability in victory and defeat. Here’s to one of the best leaders the Saints have ever had. Happy retirement!”