Olsen spent the 2021 season with the Seattle Seahawks after spending the previous nine with the Carolina Panthers, where he became the first tight end in NFL history to have three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 2014-16.
The Panthers released Olsen, 35, during the 2020 offseason under new coach Matt Rhule. He signed a one-year, $6.6 million deal with Seattle in February.
In July, Olsen signed a deal to be Fox Sports’ No. 2 NFL television analyst, paired with Kevin Burkhardt, after he retires.
“Proud of what I was able to accomplish in this league, proud of the relationships and everything that the game has given me,” Olsen said during Fox Sports’ pregame show. “But sometimes, when it’s time, it’s time, and my time in the NFL now has come to an end. I’m excited for the next chapter. … I’ve got it all out of my system.”
He was saluted on Twitter by both the Panthers and Seahawks after he made his announcement.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 24, 2021
Congratulations on retirement, @gregolsen88!
We wish you nothing but the best. 💙 https://t.co/3vt6VF5PfU
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) January 24, 2021
Olsen played this past season with Seattle in hopes of achieving the one thing he felt was missing in his 14-year career — a Super Bowl title.
That didn’t go as planned. He caught 24 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown in 11 regular-season games and was held without a catch on eight snaps in Seattle’s wild-card loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Olsen spent four weeks on injured reserve with a torn plantar fascia — a foot injury he had suffered at Carolina — then missed the Seahawks’ regular-season finale after returning in Week 16.
After injuring his foot in Week 11, Olsen posted a picture of himself limping off the field and vowed that would not be the way his NFL career ended.
Olsen posted the following message on social media after announcing his retirement:
“As a young kid, I never dreamed of playing in the NFL. At the time, my dreams didn’t go any further than the local high school team that was coached by my father. My dad is still the best coach I have ever had. He introduced my brothers and me to the game at an early age and poured every ounce of himself into helping us reach our potential. My mom was the biggest fan in the stands from the start. She was the loudest and the proudest. She was our rock when we lost and our shoulder when dad was too tough.
“These past 14 years have allowed me to take this journey with my best friend. My wife, Kara, is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Since our first date at Miami, she has been by my side through it all. Living the past 14 years with me was not an easy task. I try to remind myself and her of that fact every day. My 3 kids, Tate, TJ, and Talbot, have taught me a life bigger than myself and my own wants and wishes. I look forward to the next chapter together as a family. I look forward to catching up on so many moments I have missed as I chased this life.
“To the countless teammates, coaches, and staff members in Chicago, Seattle, and especially Carolina, I thank you. You molded and shaped me into the player and person I am today.
“I try to not look back and have regrets. I have so much I am proud of over my career. But as I look back on my career, I have two. I regret never reaching the top of the mountain. I regret walking off the field under the weight of confetti, but realizing our dream came up short.
“Watching the time tick down, in an empty stadium, knowing it would be my last game. Not having the ability to be surrounded by my loved ones. Not being able to hug them and thank them for a lifetime of love and sacrifice.
“Life doesn’t always go as planned, but it was a great ride.”
Olsen finished as Carolina’s all-time leader in receiving yards (6,463), receptions (524) and 100-yard receiving games (10) by a tight end. His 60 touchdown catches rank eighth among all NFL tight ends.
Drafted by the Chicago Bears with the 31st overall draft pick in 2007 out of the University of Miami, Olsen was traded to the Panthers in 2011.
ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this report.