Kuechly announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old just completed his eighth consecutive season with 100-plus tackles and has been the heart and soul of Carolina's defense, and his retirement certainly comes as a surprise, though his concussion history is well documented. Kuechly received All-Pro honors seven times -- five First Team -- and totaled 1,092 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 18 interceptions and seven forced fumbles in 118 career games, all with the Panthers.
Kuechly, who made six tackles in Sunday's 42-10 loss to the Saints, finishes up the 2019 campaign with 144 stops (81 solo) and two interceptions in 16 games played.
Kuechly's total saw him finish fifth league-wide in tackles and surprisingly marked his best tally since 2014. Of course, the All-Pro linebacker had dealt with injuries since then, but in playing all 16 games for the second straight season, Kuechly again led the Panthers in stops. Unlike years prior, however, he didn't make any sacks but did defend a career-high 12 passes, including a pair of interceptions. The 28-year-old is under contract for two more years in Carolina, where he figures to remain one of the NFL's most productive defensive players in 2020.
Kuechly made six tackles (five solo) in Sunday's 38-6 loss to the Colts.
Kuechly was also credited with two quarterback hits, but Carolina's defense offered little resistance overall. It'll look to close the campaign with an improved showing, but Week 17's matchup against the high-powered Saints offense doesn't appear favorable.
Kuechly made 17 tackles (eight solo) in Sunday's 30-24 loss to the Seahawks.
Kuechly registered nearly three times as many stops as all his teammates, turning in his best statistical performance in a while. The linebacker also hit opposing quarterback Russell Wilson twice, showing no signs of slowing to end this season.
Kuechly posted 11 tackles (eight solo) and a pass breakup in Sunday's 40-20 loss to the Falcons.
Kuechly posted his fifth double-digit tackling performance of the season, bringing him to 114 stops on the season. While it will be tough for him to reach a new career high in the category this season -- his current best is 165 stops during his rookie season -- Kuechly's in prime position to put up his best number since the 2014 campaign.
Kuechly made seven tackles (three solo) in Sunday's 29-21 loss to the Redskins.
Kuechly has now gone five straight games without hitting double digits in tackles, an uncharacteristic stretch for the All-Pro linebacker. Although he defended a pass Sunday, putting him two away from a new career high, Kuechly's declining tackling rate has hurt his traditionally high IDP value.
Kuechly made six tackles (three solo) and defended two passes in Sunday's 34-31 loss to the Saints.
Kuechly has now gone four weeks in a row without hitting double figures in stops, which is surprising for a player of his caliber. On the bright side, he's shown well in coverage, as he's now defended nine passes this season, putting him three away from a new career high.
Kuechly finished with eight tackles (four solo) in Sunday's 29-3 loss to the Falcons.
Kuechly tied teammates Tre Boston and Eric Reid for Carolina's team lead in stops, bouncing back after a couple underwhelming outings by his standards. The linebacker now sports 90 tackles through 10 games this season.
Kuechly finished with just four tackles (one solo) in Sunday's 24-16 loss to the Packers.
Kuechly has now been uncharacteristically quiet in back-to-back weeks, as he's totaled just 10 tackles in Carolina's last two games. That decrease in pace leaves Kuechly's season tally at 82 stops through nine outings, but he still leads the Panthers in the category.
Kuechly finished with six tackles (three solo) in Sunday's 30-20 win over the Titans.
Kuechly matched his season low in stops, with both of those six-tackle outings coming over the past three weeks. Although he also defended a pass Sunday, he'll look to up his tackling output to its usual level Week 10 at the Packers.
Kuechly made 10 tackles (nine solo) and intercepted a pass in Sunday's 51-13 loss to the 49ers.
Kuechly has now picked off a pass in consecutive games, adding extra value to his usually high tackle tally. The linebacker again paced the Panthers in stops Sunday, bringing his total to 72 through seven games this season.
Kuechly made six tackles (four solo) and picked off a pass in Sunday's 37-26 win over the Buccaneers.
Kuechly posted his lowest tackling output of the season, but compensated by defending a pair of passes, including his interception. As the Panthers now enter their bye week, Kuechly leads the team with 62 stops to go with five passes defended and his one pick, but he has yet to record a sack.
Kuechly logged 12 tackles (four solo) in Sunday's 34-27 win over the Jaguars.
Kuechly led the Panthers in stops once again and also defended a pass for good measure. Through five weeks, the linebacker now sports 56 tackles, topping the league in the category.
Kuechly posted 10 tackles (eight solo) in Sunday's 38-20 win over the Cardinals.
Kuechly trailed only Shaq Thompson for Carolina's team lead in stops. Following a massive, 18-tackle performance in Week 2, Kuechly's second straight game in double digits now brings his total to 36 stops through three games.
Kuechly had 17 tackles (eight solo) and two tackles for loss, including one for a safety, in Thursday's loss to the Buccaneers.
Kuechly also had a pass breakup as he once again played every defensive snap. The 28-year-old looks to be his usual self through the first two games of the season.
Kuechly finished with eight tackles (four solo) and defended a pass in Sunday's 30-27 loss to the Rams.
Kuechly also shared a tackle for loss in Sunday's performance, which saw him play all 77 defensive snaps.
Kuechly made one tackle in Thursday night's 10-3 preseason loss to the Patriots.
Kuechly sat out Carolina's first two exhibition tilts but was featured for 19 snaps in Thursday's outing. That experience should now have him fully prepped for the regular season, when he'll look to put together a seventh Pro-Bowl campaign as the heartbeat of the Panthers defense.
Kuechly is expected to play in Thursday's preseason contest at New England, Max Henson of the Panthers' official site reports.
Kuechly was removed from an early training camp session after he was caught in a pileup, spurring concerns about his notable history with concussions. An ensuing absence from practice was then called a scheduled day off by coach Ron Rivera. Kuechly didn't take the field during the Panthers' first two exhibitions, so an appearance Thursday will be his first in the defense's new 3-4 alignment. There's not much worry about a downtick in his tackle count, which has dipped below a 145-stop pace (per 16 games) just once in seven pro seasons.
Kuechly will not play in Thursday's preseason opener against the Bears.
Kuechly reportedly suffered a head injury that forced him to leave practice last week, but it was never considered serious and the linebacker never entered concussion protocol. While he has practiced since, the Panthers are going to be extra cautious with their leader on defense.
Coach Ron Rivera noted that Kuechly's absence from practice Thursday was a scheduled day off, Joe Person of The Athletic reports.
Kuechly has endured concussion issues in the past, but he played all 16 games last season, en route to racking up a fantasy-friendly 130 tackles, to go along with two sacks, a pair of forced fumbles and an interception.