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CAR LB Luke Kuechly Announces Retirement

Quite a day for the Carolina Panthers, who earlier announced the hiring of Joe Brady as offensive coordinator less than 24 hours after guiding the LSU Tigers to college football's national championship.

Kuechly turns 29 in April. He had two more years left on his contract, with more than $10 million in salary for each season.


44 comments, Last at 01 Feb 2020, 7:19pm

1 Hall of famer. One of the…

Hall of famer. One of the very best and a probable lock for the all decade team. Hard to leave 10 million but a nice reminder that football isn't a child's game that these lucky guys get to do for a living. Football is going to work and leaving bloodied and broken. Its a stressful job where you are always looking over your shoulder and large parts of the year are spent away from family and friends.

5 I disagree. He has five…

I disagree. He has five first team all pros and a million pro bowls. That along with his defensive player of the year and presence on the 100 list give him far more credentials than Patrick Willis or any of the other names you've mentioned ( by the way that's not to suggest that I think Luke kuechly was better than Patrick Willis).


I know the All-Pro voting has problems and the pro bowl has a reputation of being a joke but five all-pros is still quite an accomplishment. think he will be an easy first-ballot hall-of-famer by credentials alone.


incidentally there's a player who I believe is one of the greatest players I ever saw and may not even get in and his name is Justin Smith. 

23 All three should get in if…

All three should get in if you ask me, Thomas, Willis and Kuechly. Though they might suffer from MLBitis, which is the shortchanging of MLBs and other low-profile positions in favor of WRs, RBs and QBs (Eli Manning, yay).

9 Willis has 5 all-pros …

Willis has 5 all-pros (including one as a rookie) and 7 pro bowls, too.

Then there is Thomas, who has Willis's sack numbers, Kuechly's INT numbers, the same accolades, and as many tackles as those two combined.

Mind you, Thomas is a borderline candidate. I don't see Willis and Kuechly getting in. I suspect they block each other, like Atwater and Lynch do.

10 Thomas may already be in

Thomas may already be in by the time Keuchly is up.

Willis will likely be in as well - opening the door for Keuchly who has a very similar resume with the added bonus of a Defensive Player of the Year award win.

I think he gets in, maybe not first ballot but his resume for the years he played is great.

21 That's debatable. Also, Ham…

That's debatable. Also, Ham wasn't an MLB.

Ham and Lambert had the same number of all-pro seasons. Lambert had a DPOY, but Ham was 1st-team all-decade whereas Lambert was 2nd-team. However, Lambert was 2nd team in two decades (70s and 80s). Lambert had the misfortune of sharing decades with both Butkus and Singletary. 

Ham was considered the best of the pre-LT OLBs.

33 " Lambert had the misfortune…

" Lambert had the misfortune of sharing decades with both Butkus and Singletary.  "

That's kind of funny when you consider that Lambert and Butkus' careers did not overlap at all; and Lambert and Singletary overlapped by just 4 seasons. 


When your career runs from 1974-1984, you are kind of screwed for the arbitrary "all decade" teams.

19 L.K. has six all-rpo years…

L.K. has six all-rpo years. maybe 5 ASs. press all-pros btu Ass. press is not the only award service. Ass. press is most well-known one. Also is crappiest. Ass. press team  selected 10 differnt guys for their 11 offesnive spots for 2019 all-pro team and made up a position. also, did tno follow their own voting and robbed richard sherman and julio jones of 1st team honors due to asinine misinterpretation of their own votes! never seen antyhign so absurd the entire decade 

12 Yeah, he should be. He has…

Yeah, he should be. He has been near the top of the league at his position every season of his 8-year career, with the awards to show for it (defensive rookie of the year in 2012 then 7 straight pro bowls, plus a bunch of higher awards on top of that). I'd break his career pyramid into:

1 season where he was defensive player of the year (2013)
2 more seasons where he was the best ILB in the league (2014, 2015)
3 more seasons where he was a top 3 ILB (2016, 2017, 2018)
2 more seasons where he was in the top 10 ILB (2012, 2019)

Adding a couple more top 10 seasons would be nice, but this sure looks like a HOF resume to me.

14 Kuechly is bang in the…

Kuechly is bang in the conversation for greatest coverage linebacker in the history of the game. His career was outstanding from start to finish. He absolutely, definitely should be in the Hall of Fame. He won’t have the same ridiculous ‘ironman’ stretch as some of the other recent LB inductees, but damn the voters if they punish him for not wanting to put his body through any more trauma (especially in light of what happened to Seau).

25 Run game

While he was incredible in his range and instincts in coverage, he was also a great side-to-side, and rush the gap run stopper as well.


He was truly a special player.


The one rare 'most NFL ready' linebackers to actually turn our that way.

29 The one rare 'most NFL ready…

In reply to by dmstorm22

The one rare 'most NFL ready' linebackers to actually turn our that way.

Somewhere, Aaron Curry gazes wistfully into the distance and sheds a single tear.

40 Kuechly has 5 first team All…

Kuechly has 5 first team All-Pros and 7 Pro Bowls.

54 players have 4+ first-team All-Pros since 1970 and are eligible for the Hall of Fame (having retired in 2014 or earlier). 48 of the 54 are in the Hall. 5 of the remaining 6 are finalists this year (there are 15 finalists, 5 of whom will be inducted):

LeRoy Butler (4 AP, 4 PB, ret 2001)
Zach Thomas (5 AP, 7 PB, ret 2008)
Alan Faneca (6 AP, 9 PB, ret 2010)
Steve Hutchinson (5 AP, 7 PB ret 2012)
Troy Polamalu (4 AP, 8 PB, ret 2014)

The other one is Patrick Willis (5 AP, 7 PB, ret 2014), who just became eligible this year and did not make the finalists.

16 of the 48 who are in the Hall have 12 or fewer AP+PB (Kuechly has 12).

So a rough summary of hardware also makes it look like Kuechly belongs.

24 Correlation, not causation

In reply to by Stendhal1

Willis made it pretty clear he was retiring for medical reasons.  He'd already suffered a myriad of small/moderate injuries and was just done abusing his body.  He didn't want to half-ass the position.  I believe LK stated he's retiring for similar reasons.  I doubt very much the coach had anything to do with it; versus say the Barry Sanders retirement.  

26 Correlation, some causation

I agree the medical reasons were genuine and real.  I do think, though, that the end of the eras in coaching and uncertainty going forward made it easier to heed the medical reasons and retire for both gentlemen.  One reason why I think this for Patrick Willis is the other retirements after the 2014 season, which I just looked up to confirm, including Cowboy Smith, Anthony Davis, Chris Borland.  Borland was a sui generis case (really respect him), and Smith was aging, but think there's some causation in Willis, Smith and Davis having been such valuable 49ers in the Harbaugh years and then leaving (two at an early age) after he left.

I also agree Sanders is a different case entirely

28 too many unknowns

I concur that the massive loss of talent from retirement during a very short period and the departure of Harbaugh may have played a role in Willis' choice to retire.  However, that would be impossible to quantify.  All we are left to go by is what Willis stated publicly. 


On a side note, it makes me rather sad we did not get to see more of Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Willis, Bowman, et al play together in their primes.  That was a mighty good defense for a few years. 

30 Sigh -- that 49ers defense

In reply to by Bill Walshs Ho…

Only the second NFL game I attended was the 49ers first playoff game in years, in Harbaugh's first season--the classic vs. the Saints.  (Talk about good luck in attending games!  My first NFL game was Jim Kelly's first regular season game as a Bill.) I must admit that I almost cried when they introduced the defense (of course) on the jumbo display and I saw Patrick Willis introduced.  He finally had a surrounding team worthy of him, after so many years.  At my fourth NFL game two years later, when my sons and I went to the team store to get replica jerseys, I selected Navarro Bowman.

6 More Panthers news

They are hiring Joe Brady of LSU as offensive coordinator. Morganja, as a Panthers fan, is this relatively good news?

11 I really wish they would add…

I really wish they would add Extra Points for smaller, in-the-weeds, news like coordinator hires. Getting the opinions from smart commenters on things like that are much of the reason I still visit FO.

27 Ditto

Information about teams' prospective offenses and defenses based on their offseason assistant coaching moves is one of the key treats in the annual FO book.  It captures nuances otherwise unknown to me.

31 No. Brady has no credentials…

No. Brady has no credentials whatsoever besides one good year as a co-coordinator of a college team's offense. He was LB coach for two years at William and Mary, a GA at Penn State,  one year on the staff of the Saints. He is 30 years old.
The coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinators are all now 30 or under with virtually zero NFL experience. When has an entire coaching staff lacked anyone with NFL experience and all been 30 years old? Almost always a young college coach getting his first NFL coaching job will have a coordinator with long experience in the NFL.
This is a disaster for the Panthers. 
The consensus here is that a four win season would be a happy surprise, and that while we hope they are all incredible coaches, it is extremely unlikely. The Panthers will be picking in the top five for the next five years, at least. 
It was telling that Kuechly retired at this point, instead of immediately after the season. He has been to linebacker and coaching sessions. Whatever happened in those sessions at least tipped him towards retiring, if not not flat out just made him decide to quit.

32 Only one post-merger…

Only one post-merger franchise has had Top 5 picks 5 years in a row, so that would be historically bad.  Not saying it won't happen, but it's very rare.

JAC picked in the Top 5 SIX straight years, 2012-2017.  Source:  pfr draft-finder.  I didn't check to see if teams had EARNED a top 5 pick and traded it, or traded up into the top 5, so I may have missed some badness.

Oilers had top 5 picks four straight years, '84 to '88.  Colts had five top 5 picks in '82-'86 and six in '82-87 but had a break in '84 with none - in '82 they had 2.

PIT has had ONE Top 5 pick post-merger, and that was in 1970.  Tepper is coming from the most consistently non-awful franchise since the merger, hard to see him keeping Rhule for his full contract if he keeps earning high draft position.

MIN (2), MIA (3), SF (3), and DEN (5) have had 5 or less TOTAL Top 5 picks since 1970.  Texans have just 4, but in a shorter period.

And Carolina itself has had only 3 Top 5 picks in its history.

34 Honorable mention for the…

Honorable mention for the late 80's Bucs with 7-straight years drafting in the top 8:

1985 - 8 (Ron Holmes)

1986 - 1 (Bo Jackson)

1987 - 1 (Testaverde)

1988 - 4 (Paul Gruber)

1989 - 6 (Broderick Thomas)

1990 - 4 (Keith McCants)

1991 - 7 (Charles McRae)

It looks like in 1992 they earned a pick between 2 and 4 but must have traded it away.  Then drafted 6th in 1993 (Eric Curry) and 1994 (Trent Dilfer).


So that's 9 players drafted in the top 8 over the course of 10 years.  Those 9 players combined for 4 career Pro Bowls (Jackson, Testaverde (2) and Dilfer).  Only Dilfer's Pro Bowl was for the Bucs.

38 Sean McVay

He was younger than Matt Rhule (as a poster noted, Matt’s not quite that young) when he took the HC job, so the comparison is not perfect, but to your point, I thought it was very, very smart and wise of him to have the super-experienced Wade Phillips next to him and to run the defense.

Perhaps you’ll get lucky...at least it appears that Rhule has his guys with him on his staff.  It’s better to at least know what you want to do and do it than not have a plan at all.  Good luck!

16 Luke Kuechly (6/7/10s?)…

Luke Kuechly (6/7/10s?) probably won’t be elected first ballot given his relatively brief tenure, but like Patrick Willis (5/7/10s?), whose career his resembles a good bit, I think he’s a lock to get in after a few years wait. Eight years is kind of a short career, but not Gale Sayers short — and note well that Dick Butkus only played nine years. I think it’s at worst a delaying issue.

43 Eli Manning announced today…

Eli Manning announced today that he'll be announcing his retirement in Friday. What a typically annoying exit for a player who was annoying his entire career.