LORHAM PARK, NEW JERSEY — Canadian Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is a New York Jet.
The Kansas City Chiefs dealt the veteran offensive guard to New York on Tuesday before the 4 p.m. ET NFL trade deadline for backup tight end Daniel Brown. Both players are slated to become free agents at season’s end.
“NYC here we come! #Jets,” Duvernay-Tardif tweeted.
But he also paid tribute to the Chiefs.
“Words cannot express how grateful I am to the Kansas City Chiefs organization,” Duvernay-Tardif said in a statement. “Saying goodbye to K.C. is not an easy decision.
“When I opted out last year, I promised myself to do everything in my power to come back on the field. Joining the Jets gives me the best opportunity to play.”
The six-foot-five, 321-pound Duvernay-Tardif of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., started in Kansas City’s 31-20 Super Bowl win over San Francisco on Feb. 2, 2020.
But he became the first NFL player to opt-out of the 2020 season, choosing to battle the COVID-19 pandemic working at a long-term care facility in Montreal ahead of playing football.
Duvernay-Tardif rejoined the Chiefs at training camp this summer but suffered a hand injury. He was active for the first time this season Monday night in Kansas City’s 20-17 win over the New York Giants but didn’t see any game action as rookie Trey Smith started at right guard.
Duvernay-Tardif, 30, has started 57-of-60 career NFL games. He’s expected to push Greg Roten, a former CFL player and the Jets’ current right guard, for playing time.
“It’s an opportunity to add a Super Bowl champion to the room,” New York GM Joe Douglas told reporters. “And you guys know how I feel about the offensive line and defensive line.
“If there’s an opportunity to improve any room, we’re going to do it. And LDT brings that championship pedigree.”
The Jets (2-5) are third in the AFC East under first-year head coach Robert Saleh.
Duvernay-Tardif has been recognized often for his decision to put his football career on hold. He was a co-recipient of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete; named ESPN’s Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian of the Year as well as one of Sports Illustrated’s 2020 Sportspersons of the year.
Kansas City selected Duvernay-Tardif, a converted defensive lineman, in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft out of McGill University.
He made his first-ever start for the Chiefs on Sept. 13, 2015, versus the Houston Texans, and started 13 of 16 games he appeared in that year.
“Thanks to Coach Reid who believed in me and supported me throughout my whole career to pursue both medical school and pro football, my two passions,” Duvernay-Tardif wrote. “Winning the Super Bowl in 2020 with this team will forever be one of my proudest moments.
“I’m excited for the next step of my journey and to be part of the New York Jets organization. I believe strongly in what they are building and I am very thankful to be a part of it. Thank you Joe Douglas and Coach Saleh for your trust in me. Go Jets.”
When Duvernay-Tardif was drafted, he became only the second McGill player selected after defensive lineman Randy Chevrier was taken in the seventh round by the Jacksonville Jaguars in ‘01.
Duvernay-Tardif wasn’t invited to the 2014 NFL combine but the Chiefs were among nine NFL teams and four CFL clubs that attended his pro day workout.
Duvernay-Tardif didn’t disappoint, posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.94 seconds, a 31.5-inch vertical and 34 reps in the bench press.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2021.
The Canadian Press