Luke Kuechly is an American professional football player. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1991, he played his entire professional career for the Carolina Panthers. In January 2020, Luke announced his retirement. That can cost him millions of dollars. So how much is Luke Kuechly net worth?
Kuechly is a middle linebacker. He started his career at St. Xavier High School and then played college football at Boston College. There, he won ACC Defensive player of the year, Bronko Nagurski trophy, and many more accolades.
Quick Career Summary
After several awards and accolades during his college career, Luke announced on January 6, 2012, that he is going pro. He forgoes his final year of college eligibility and entered the 2012 NFL draft. At the time, he was the top linebacker available in the draft.
At the pro day workouts combine, he erased any doubts about his athleticism. He demonstrated rare pass coverage abilities, allowing him to be a three-down inside linebacker. This raised his draft stock value even more.
The Carolina Panther selected him in the first round with the ninth overall pick. He was the first linebacker in the draft. In May 2012, he signed a 4-year, $12.58 million contract.
He showed immediate impact in his rookie season, leading the NFL in tackles. Luke also won the Associated Press 2012 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
In his second season, he raised his play to another level. Kuechly became the leader of a stingy defense that finished the season as runner-up in points and yards allowed. On December 22, 2013, he nearly tied the NFL record for most tackles in a game. Luke recorded 24 tackles and one interception, helping the Panthers beat the New Orleans Saints and qualify for the playoffs.
After film review, his tackles number got increased to 26, making it six more than the previous team record. It was also a new NFL single-game record. He made the 2013 All-Pro Team and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year by Associated Press. He joined Lawrence Taylor as the only two players in history to win Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player in successive years.
During his third season, Pro Football Focus rated him as the best inside linebacker in the NFL. He finished the season with 153 tackles, leading the NFL.
In September 2015, he signed a five-year, $62 million extension to stay with the Panthers. That contract made him the highest-paid middle linebacker by annual average salary. For the first time in his pro career, he missed three games through the first seven weeks of the season. Yet, he earned the best linebacker in NFL rating by PFF.
He finished the season with his third straight Pro Bowl and third straight first-team All Pro. He ranked seventh-best player by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.
The next season, he suffered a concussion in week 11. This kept him out for the rest of the season. Despite the concussion, he still recorded more than 100 tackles and made his fourth straight Pro Bowl.
During the 2017 season, Kuechly went into the concussion protocol after suffering a few concussions. He finished the season with his fifth straight Pro Bowl and earned First Team All-Pro honors for the fourth time.
In his final, 2019 season, Luke reached a milestone with 1,000 career tackles. He was the first player in NFL history to reach the milestone in his first eight seasons. It was also the fastest achievement in only 107 games.
So far, Luke earned more than $63.8 million in total from his NFL contracts. He signed a five-year, $62 million contract extension in 2015. This would have run through 2012 and make him the highest-paid player at his position in the NFL at the time.
The deal included a $19 million signing bonus, and a $6 million roster bonus in March 2016. This is the richest deal ever for an inside linebacker.
During his last season, he was the fifth highest-paid player by the Panthers. Cam Newton led the ranking with $23.2 million salary, followed by Kawann Short with $17 million. Matt Kalil earned $12.5 million, Mario Addison earned $10.67 million and Luke earned $9.96 million.
Highest Paid Linebackers in NFL
Elite players in NFL reap the benefits of the increased salaries. During the 2019 season, 19 linebackers made at least $10 million in average annual salary. Seven made at least $15 million.
The highest-paid linebacker in the NFL is Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears, making more than $23 million per season. Von Miller with $19 million from the Broncos and Bobby Wagner with $18 million from the Seahawks round up the top 3.
How much money will he leave off the table?
Luke Kuechly net worth is $25 million. But his early retirement caught people off-guard. He decided to retire at 30 years after a painful toe injury curbed his perennial Pro Bowl and All-Pro career. The NFL is a league where more players last no more than five seasons. His retirement cannot be considered early by NFL standards.
But by retiring now, he leaves more than $22 million on the table. Those are money only from the next two years on his contract with the Panthers.
He could also make more money in future contracts. He will be 30 at the end of 2021, and with his celebrated career, he could sign another contract. Some estimates are between $50 and $75 million from his next contract.
Of course, that is only speculation. Football is a sport where the average NFL career lasts only a few seasons. He suffered three reported concussions. They could have caught up with him. Or he might have suffered another serious injury.
After retiring from professional football, he considered broadcasting or coaching as a career. But he entered scouting, and in June 2020, he returned to the Panthers as a pro scout.
He is the middle child in his family. He has a younger brother Henry, and an older brother John. His family is an avid outdoors family. They go bird hunting, fishing, deer hunting, and more.
Regarding his education, in 2015, he completed his final requirements for a marketing degree. He got one from the Boston College Carroll School of Management.
He is a devout Roman Catholic. He says that his Catholic faith made a huge and positive impact on his NFL career.
Luke got married to Shanon Reilly. They started dating in 2012, the year he started his professional career. She is also a catholic and an athlete. Shannon played lacrosse and club hockey during high school. They do not have any children together yet.