Brooks, 32, has been hit hard by injuries in recent years. He tore his right Achilles tendon in a 2018 playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints. Brooks made a quick recovery to play every game in 2019 and earn his third Pro Bowl bid, but he suffered a left Achilles tear in the summer of 2020 and missed the entire season.
Brooks also suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle in Week 2 of this past season. He said Wednesday that retirement was something he had been contemplating since last offseason.
"After all of these injuries, I just realized, at what point do you listen to your body? I think my body was just telling me I had to make a decision, and I think at this point in time, I think it's the right decision," said Brooks, who plans to stay in the Philadelphia area and apply to business school at the University of Pennsylvania.
A third-round draft selection of the Texans in 2012, Brooks played his first four seasons in Houston before signing a five-year, $40 million free-agent deal with the Eagles in 2016. He made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2017 to '19, and was a key in helping deliver Philadelphia its first Super Bowl title after the 2017 season.
Brooks' openness about his mental health could prove to be a bigger part of his legacy. He missed multiple games over his career with what was later diagnosed as an anxiety condition and was one of the first NFL players to talk candidly about mental health, helping pave the way to make the issue more mainstream.
"It has always been a part of me, it will always be a part of me. It will always be something that I deal with," he said. "When it comes to that, I just want to be known as a person who was transparent and a person who just wanted to help others by sharing my story."
The Eagles recently had reworked Brooks' contract, possibly in anticipation of Wednesday's announcement, to reduce his 2022 guaranteed salary and create $12.38 million in salary-cap space, a league source told ESPN's Field Yates.
Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie credited Brooks with helping to create and maintain a winning culture in Philadelphia while pointing out his "unique blend of toughness, power, athleticism, intelligence and skill."
"Beyond his on-field accomplishments, I am most proud of the way Brandon represents our organization with exemplary class," Lurie said in a statement. "He is one of the most thoughtful and bravest athletes I have ever been around. Brandon's willingness to openly discuss his own struggles with anxiety has served as an inspiration for so many and helped open the door for future conversations among athletes and role models everywhere. His impact in that area is immeasurable."
Brooks spent 40 minutes Wednesday expressing his gratitude to former teammates, coaches, and the city of Philadelphia during a videoconference with reporters.
"How do you say goodbye to something you've known your whole life?" he said. "Something that taught you triumph, pain, success, failure, perseverance, love, empathy and altruism. I don't know, but I'll try my best."