Luke Kuechly, the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has announced his retirement from the NFL at only 28 years old. Drafted with the ninth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Kuechly spent the entirety of his career with the Carolina Panthers, making seven Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams, including from this past season. Kuechly released the following statement regarding his retirement:
“In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do.” pic.twitter.com/mSDyJ0iEMw
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 15, 2020
Following the news of Kuechly’s retirement, tributes have begun to pour in from around the league:
Words can’t describe who Luke Kuechly is as a person, friend, and teammate. We have shared countless memories together both on the field and away from it. I feel honored to be his friend and I’ll always appreciate the impact he has had on my life. Love you buddy pic.twitter.com/0DHYkOwDp1
— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen88) January 15, 2020
Thank you for some of the best memories both on and off the field. I’m so honored to have shared the field with not just the best player I’ve ever seen, but the best person I’ve ever met. Will always love you bro! To retirement??@LukeKuechly
— Christian McCaffrey (@CMC_22) January 15, 2020
I couldn’t be more proud to call you my brother! Congrats on a heck of a career! The game will miss you as much as you miss the game bro! I love you my brother! https://t.co/6jw3C1xeZK
— Thomas Davis (@ThomasDavisSDTM) January 15, 2020
Congrats @LukeKuechly on early retirement. You were a fearless player out there on the field. Soooo….when are you coming back??
— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) January 15, 2020
Incredible player and person.
The game is going to miss you brother! https://t.co/UxKiTkww7S
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 15, 2020
With Kuechly calling it a career, there is now a giant hole in the Panthers defense that newly appointed Head Coach Ron Rivera will look to fill next season, as Carolina looks to improve upon the 5-11 season the team posted this year.