Eric Wood can finally announce he’s retiring after the Buffalo Bills released the veteran center in a move considered a formality after he was diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury in January.
The NFL transactions list on Thursday listed the Bills reaching an injury settlement and releasing Wood under the designation: “Termination of vested veteran.”
The decision by the Bills ends a lengthy waiting period for the team and Wood.
By waiting until Thursday, the Bills limited the effect the player’s remaining bonus money will have on their salary cap. The more than $10 million in bonus money owed to Wood will now only count against the team’s salary cap this year rather than be spread over the two years left on the contract.
Wood read from a prepared statement and spoke for less than two minutes in revealing end of season tests discovered two discs being dangerously close to his spinal cord.
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“Thanks to everyone who supported me throughout my career. And because of that, I am here today,” Wood said. “I’m sure there are a lot of unanswered questions. I hope to address those at a later date. Thanks, and go Bills.”
According to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, teams could have asked for a portion of bonus money to be returned if a player retired before his contract expired.
There was, however, a gray area if a player retired as a result of a career-ending injury.
Wood is from Cincinnati and spent four seasons playing at Louisville before being selected by the Bills with their second of two first-round picks in the 2009 draft. Wood earned a starting job entering his rookie season and appeared in 121 games, including one in the playoffs.
He was a respected team leader, popular in the community for his charitable work, and was the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee in 2015 and ’16.