Carolina Panthers' first-year head coach Matt Rhule lost his defensive captain less than a month into his tenure, but is hoping that he returns in some capacity in 2020.
Luke Kuechly surprised everyone around the league when he announced that he was . The seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the Panthers, who drafted him with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
"I've been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play this game since I was in fourth grade," Kuechly said in an emotional video. "I've been with the Panthers now for eight years and it's 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."
Kuechly also said that he hoped to "still be involved in some way," which makes it seem like he would like to remain with the Panthers in some capacity or begin working as a coach.
On Wednesday, during a Sirius XM NFL Radio interview, Rhule told Alex Marvez that he hopes Kuechly would rejoin the Panthers as a coach at some point. According to Rhule, Kuechly was still in the building post-retirement, and watching film with Rhule's staff.
Kuechly is known as a cerebral player who compounded his football IQ with his physical gifts to turn in an impressive NFL career. In all eight seasons, the inside backer recorded over 100 combined tackles.
Former teammate Mike Tolbert he wasn't surprised by Kuechly's announcement, but the timing was definitely odd. Kuechly tried to dispel some of the rumors before they got started by saying that his decision had nothing to do with Ron Rivera being fired or Rhule taking over. Now, he has a chance to join Rhule's staff and help his former team as they enter a period of transition.