Luke Kuechly retired on Tuesday. The 28-year old was the latest player, seemingly in the prime of his career, to walk away from the NFL. Kuechly, the 9th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, played 8 seasons with the Carolina Panthers and made 7 Pro Bowls. Kuechly made $63.8 million in his career earnings.
Kuechly signed a 5-year, $61,801,565 contract extension in 2015, which he restructured in both 2018 and 2019. He was supposed to receive a base salary of $10.3 million in 2020 and $10.6 in 2021, but both those numbers will be voided if Kuechly officially retires. By retiring, he could be leaving somewhere around $34 million on the table.
The good news for the Panthers is that this will save them nearly $30 million in cap space over the next two seasons. While it will be difficult to replace a Pro Bowl middle linebacker, it will leave general manager Marty Hurney and new head coach Matt Rhule with some extra money to spend.