4 worst moments of 2020 for the Carolina Panthers

(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Luke Kuechly /

Luke Kuechly’s retirement

The Carolina Panthers received the biggest of bombshells to start 2020 with the news that Luke Kuechly decided to hang up his cleats after eight exceptional seasons. This was a crushing blow to the team’s plans on defense under new head coach Matt Rhule, but few would begrudge the perennial All-Pro from walking away on his own terms after everything he’d given the organization.

Kuechly was a revelation for the Panthers from the moment he stepped on the field. He won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 after making the biggest of impressions and swiftly followed this up with the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in only his second campaign as a professional.

His electrifying play at the second level made him an instant fan favorite with Carolina’s loyal support. Couple this with the highest of football IQ’s and an ability to inspire others around him, and it’s not hard to see why Kuechly is widely regarded as one of the league’s greatest-ever players at the position.

The player retired having accumulated 1,092 tackles – 690 of which were solo – together with 75 tackles for loss, 31 quarterback hits, 12.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, 66 passes defended, and 18 interceptions. Kuechly earned five All-Pro selections, seven Pro Bowl trips, and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s.

Not having him on the field this season has taken some getting used to. But the Panthers were shrewd enough to keep Kuechly around in the role of a pro scout, with his knowledge clearly rubbing off on stud rookie Jeremy Chinn, among others.