Buffalo Bills Rookie Offensive Lineman Suddenly Retires at Age 24

Will Ulmer

@ulmerwill/Instagram Less than a month after the Bills signed undrafted free agent Will Ulmer, the Marshall alum announced his retirement on Twitter.

After receiving an invite to the Buffalo Bills rookie minicamp tryout, Will Ulmer signed with the franchise as an undrafted free agent on May 15, Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed reported.

Ulmer, a 6-foot-4, 312-pound offensive lineman who started a school-record 57 games for Marshall University, appeared thrilled to sign with the Bills. He proudly shared the news on Instagram, writing, “God is so good!! Blessed to be a Bill💙❤️.”

Ulmer’s UDFA contract was a three-year deal worth about $2.56 million, per OvertheCap.com, with only $2,500 fully guaranteed. If he made the final roster, his base salary would’ve been $705,000 in 2022.

On June 8, however, “One Bills Live” host Chris Brown reported that Ulmer was no longer a member of the team, tweeting at 1:24 p.m. Eastern time, “The #Bills have announced they’ve released undrafted rookie OL Will Ulmer. He had signed w/Buffalo after a rookie minicamp tryout.”

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Thirty minutes after Brown’s tweet, Ulmer announced he was retiring from football, posting a detailed personal message on Twitter. Based on the 24-year-old’s note, it seems he asked the Bills to release him after he had come to the realization that he no longer wanted to play.

“There comes a time in every football player’s life where they must hang up their cleats, and for me, that day is today,” Ulmer wrote. “This was a decision that I made after spending hours praying on the subject. I am extremely grateful to the Buffalo Bills organization and coach McDermott for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“Once I reached the pinnacle of organized football, it became glaringly obvious to me that there are much more important things in life than the game of football,” Ulmer continued.

Ulmer thanked all his coaches, family and support system for helping him pursue his dreams, writing, “I look forward to being a more present Son, Brother, Boyfriend, and a happier person altogether.”


Ulmer’s NFL Journey Started With the Kansas City Chiefs

After Ulmer’s name wasn’t called in the draft, Ulmer’s professional career hung in the balance. After an invite from the Green Bay Packers never came to fruition, he attended rookie minicamp with the Kansas City Chiefs but wasn’t offered a contract.

However, Ulmer was pumped to score another invite from the Chiefs’ AFC rival. He tweeted on May 11, “Can’t wait to get to Buffalo this weekend for Rookie Mini Camp!! #BillsMafia.”

“Initially, I thought it was Green Bay, then that fell through,” Ulmer told the Huntington (West Virginia) Herald-Dispatch on May 16. “Then it was the Chiefs and I went and did their rookie minicamp this past weekend and then it was the Buffalo Bills. I came up here and found some success with it.”

If Ulmer was still playing, he’d be facing heavy competition at right tackle, even for a spot on the practice squad. In addition to Dion Dawkins and Spencer Brown, the Bills’ clear starters, Buffalo also has Tommy Doyle, recently signed veteran David Quessenberry, and their sixth-round pick, Luke Tenuta.

Aside from Ulmer, the Bills added also signed a trio of undrafted offensive linemen: Tanner Owen, Derek Kerstetter and Alec Anderson.


The Bills Signed Ulmer After the 2nd Day of Rookie Minicamp

Ulmer must’ve impressed the Bills coaching staff. After just two days in Buffalo, a team scout approached him to get cleaned up for a meeting. “He didn’t just come out and say they were going to sign me but I knew it was a really good sign,” Ulmer told the Herald-Dispatch.

After officially inking his UDFA deal, Ulmer sounded relieved. “I’ve been working so hard at this thing for so long and this was one of my very last opportunities to create some success and get a foot in the door and it’s an amazing feeling,” the rookie said.

However, Ulmer was singing a very different tune in early June. To close his retirement announcement on Wednesday he wrote, “This has been a long journey and I have enjoyed every step along the way. I can wait to see what God has in store for the next season of my life.”

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