DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) - Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly suddenly announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday night, marking the end of an eight-year career with the team.
Kuechly leaves the Panthers as one of the top players, not just at his position, but in the entire NFL. It's a move similar to former San Francisco 49ers star Patrick Willis, who also retired after eight seasons.
It was an extremely productive and impactful career, albeit one that was also filled with injuries, including at least three recorded concussions. Kuechly earned more than $63 million in his career with Carolina, and was a Pro Bowl selection in seven of his eight NFL seasons.
Kuechly was also a five-time first-team All-Pro, a two-time second-team All-Pro, a three-time Butkus Award winner, and led the NFL in tackles twice. Not to mention also winning the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award.
He ends his career with 1,092 tackles, 75 tackles for loss, 18 interceptions, 12.5 sacks, nine fumble recoveries, and two defensive touchdowns in 118 career games. He also started in every game he played.
His departure will leave a gaping hole in the middle of the Carolina defense, as the team attempts to rebuild around a new coach in Matt Rhule, and the few remaining assets available on the roster.