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The New Orleans Saints’ offensive line will look a lot different during the 2024-25 NFL season than it did during the 2023-24 season. According to the latest NFL news, Saints offensive lineman James Hurst has decided to call it quits and retire from the NFL. The 32-year-old announced his retirement decision on Instagram recently in a move that many in the Saints organization expected.

Hurst played college football at North Carolina before going undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent and spent six seasons with the team before joining the Saints in 2020. James Hurst and the Saints spent four seasons together, with Hurst starting 51 games and playing both tackle and guard.

“Every year playing this sport has been a blessing from God,” Hurst wrote in his retirement post on Instagram. “Football, and the people around it, have played a huge part in shaping me into the man I am today. Twenty-four of my thirty-two years of life have been spent training for and playing this game and retiring will be a huge, yet exciting, change in my life.”

James Hurst retires at a time when the Saints’ offensive line is going through a series of transitions. Heading into the 2024-25 NFL season, center Erik McCoy and right guard Cesar Ruiz are expected to be the only returning starters on the offensive line. The team also hired long-time NFL coach John Benton to oversee the offensive line in February, and it selected Oregon State offensive tackle Taliese Fuaga with the 14th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft as well.

On his way out, Hurst suggested he believes several of the young offensive linemen already on the Saints roster have bright futures. He highlighted the potential of young players like Trevor Penning and Nick Saldiveri and said he has seen them make huge strides in their development with the team.

But even still, Saints quarterback Derek Carr hinted at just how much New Orleans will miss him now that James Hurst’s NFL career is over. He spoke about how much the Saints will miss Hurst’s experience, in particular.

“Once you get past 10 years, especially on the O-line and all that kind of stuff, those talks start happening in your head,” Carr said in April, before touching on how he will also miss Hurst on a personal level. “The friend he was to me, the teammate he was to me when we went through our struggles early on…all that stuff matters, and he is one of those guys. As a teammate, as a leader, he is someone I looked up to.”

The Saints’ offensive line was ranked 24th-best in the NFL heading into the 2023-24 season, according to Pro Football Focus, but it managed to move up several spots by the end of the year.

Even without Hurst, the team will look to build on the momentum it established at the end of the season to provide Carr with even better protection than it did last year.

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