Longtime Steeler Chris Hoke Announces Retirement

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08: Chris Hoke #76 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on December 8, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Longtime Steelers defensive lineman Chris Hoke has announced his retirement at age 35.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense could be going through a few changes this year and the first one will be veteran nose tackle Chris Hoke, who has announced his retirement. Hoke, 35, originally entered the league in 2001.

He was quoted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying: "It's just time. It's the neck, I'll be 36 in April, it's all those things."

The Steelers picked up Hoke as an undrafted free agent in 2001 and after a slow start he developed into a strong option for the Steelers defensive line. He played behind Casey Hampton in recent years. Hoke played in at least 14 games for seven consecutive seasons. He was limited to just six games this season due to a neck injury.

Hoke won't be the only thing that changes in Pittsburgh in the near future. There are a number of players on the defense that are getting up there in age (Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, James Farrior) that will eventually be replaced. But our money is on the Steelers reloading as they have for a few decades now.

For more on the Steelers and the future of the defense, visit SB Nation's Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain.

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