Baltimore Ravens linebacker Zach Orr, announced in January he was retiring due to a neck and spine injury, but is now considering a comeback to the NFL.
Back in January, Baltimore Ravens leading tackler, linebacker Zach Orr, announced that he would be retiring from football at just 24-years-old due to a neck and spine injury. However now Orr has said that that injury was not as severe as doctors initially thought, and is considering making a comeback to the NFL, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo.
Doctors discovered that one of Orr’s vertebrae was not fully formed, and advised him to retire. The doctors told him that, should he keep playing with the condition, he risked paralysis or even death.
However, former Baylor quarterback Seth Russell told Orr that he should visit Sanford Emery, a spine specialist in West Virginia who had helped out Russell with a neck injury of his own. According to Orr, he was already skeptical about having to retire:
"I had my mind made up. I was like man, the doctors told me I was done. This is a serious issue. So I’m going to leave it alone. But I just kept hearing that from multiple people and some were telling me to just go check out and seek out some more opinions and things like that and 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. 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."
Once Orr met with Emery, he had a whole other round of medical evaluations that lead doctors to tell him that he was no more at risk of any kind of serious injury than any other player, and Orr is ready to get back in action.
“As far as me physically, mentally, I’m ready to go,” he 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.”
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At the time of Orr’s surprise retirement, he and the Baltimore Ravens were discussing a contract extension, as the 24-year-old had just had his best season of his career with the team and was a restricted free agent.
Once he announced his retirement, the Ravens, understandably, did not offer him a tender. As such, he’s now an unrestricted free agent now should he decide to attempt a comeback to the NFL, free to talk to any team interested in signing him.
Naturally virtually any team that would even consider signing him, including the Ravens should they elect to go that route, will be extremely cautious about Orr’s health, considering just five months ago, he and his doctors thought his injury was bad enough that he needed to retire.
As of now though, Orr is a very interesting name on the free agent market, given how young he is and how well he performed last season, proving that he has a potentially bright future in the NFL, assuming he’s healthy.
Orr was with the Ravens for three seasons after going undrafted out of the University of North Texas. He made second-team All Pro following the 2016 season.
Orr started 15 games for the Ravens in 2016, and ended the season with a team-leading 132 tackles, as well as three interceptions, and a forced fumble.