Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday. He made the unexpected announcement in an emotional video posted to the Carolina Panthers’ Twitter account.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play this game since I was in the fourth grade. I have been with the Panthers now for eight years and its never the right time to step away but now is the right time for me.”
“It’s a tough decision I’ve thought about it a lot and I think now is the right chance for me to move on. It makes me sad because I love playing this game. I played it since I was a little kid and it is my favorite thing in the world for me to do.”
“In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do.” pic.twitter.com/mSDyJ0iEMw
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 15, 2020
Kuechly explained that his retirement decision had nothing to do with the new coaches and the head coach Matt Rhule. He said that Rhule has been doing a fantastic job and has a proven track record.
He said he decided to retire because the best way to play the game was to do it fast, physical, and strong, but at this point, he was not sure that he was able to play that way anymore.
Kuechly was overwhelmed with emotion at that point in his speech and he had to pause compose himself. He said he still wanted to play but did not think that continuing to play was the right decision.
He ended by saying thank you to everyone, including the coaches, players, and staff. He thanked fans who have been with them through thick and thin. He also thanked his family and his girlfriend.
Keuchly played football at St. Xavier High School and later college football at Boston College.
He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers with the 9th overall pick of the 2012 Draft. He is ranked among the top defensive players in the NFL.
Kuechly, 28, was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He made seven Pro-Bowl appearances and is a five-time First-Team All-Pro.
His decision to retire was likely influenced by multiple concussions and other injuries he has suffered over his career.
His announcement comes after Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck stunned fans by announcing his retirement in August at 29 years old.
How much money does Kuelchy have at retirement?
In September 2015, Kuechly signed a five-year $62 million contract extension with Carolina Panthers that included a $19 million signing bonus and a $6 million roster bonus. In April 2019, that deal was restructured to provide more cap space for the team.
At his retirement, Luke Kuechly has collected $53.4 million from the Carolina Panthers according to Sportrac. He wasn’t due to become a free agent until 2022.