Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly announced his retirement from the NFL aged 28.
Luke Kuechly shocked the NFL community on Tuesday night with his decision to retire, aged just 28.
“I think now is the right chance for me to move on,” Kuechly said in a statement. “It makes me sad because I love playing this game, I’ve played it since I was a kid. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys – they’ll never go away.
“In my heart I know it’s the right thing to do… There’s only one way to play this game since I was a little kid – play fast, play physical and play strong. And at this point I don’t know if I am able to do that anymore.”
Kuechly a 2012 first-round pick (ninth overall) out of Boston College made an immediate impact on the NFL. During his rookie season Kuechly amassed 164 tackles, 2 interceptions, 7 passes defensed, 12 tackles for a loss and a sack en route to being named Defensive Rookie of the year.
There was no sign of a sophomore slump, as the seven-time Pro Bowler followed up his rookie campaign with the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Renown for his game preparation in the film room, along with his sideline to sideline speed Kuechly was the architect of destruction when it came to ruining offensive game plans.
After eight seasons in the NFL Kuechly finished with a total of 1092 tackles, seven forced fumbles, 18 interceptions, 12.5 sacks, 75 tackles for a loss and 31 quarterback hits.
Concussions and shoulder injuries meant the standout linebacker missed a total of 10 games dating from 2015 through 2017. Since 2017, Kuechly has started all 32 games making 174 tackles.
During his time with the Carolina Panthers Kuechly won the AFC South three times. During 2015 the Panthers went 15-1, failing victim to Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos (24-10) in Super Bowl 50.
Kuechly had two years remaining on his deal in Carolina and is walking away from $10.8 million in 2020.
Chargers legend Antonio Gates also retired yesterday.