Saying he no longer had a “burning desire” to play football, the 26-year-old quarterback announced his retirement after four injury-plagued seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
Jake Locker stayed as long as he could at Washington, turning down many millions of dollars to play his senior season with the Huskies in 2010.
On Tuesday, in a stunning announcement, Locker cut short his NFL career.
Saying he no longer had a “burning desire” to play football, the 26-year-old quarterback announced his retirement after four injury-plagued seasons with the Tennessee Titans. Locker, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 draft, reportedly had several suitors who wanted to sign him as a likely backup for 2015.
“I am retiring from football after much reflection and discussion with my family,” Locker said in a statement. “I will always be grateful for having had the opportunity to realize my childhood dream of playing in the NFL and for the lifelong relationships I developed because of that experience. Football has always played a pivotal role in my life and I love the game, but I no longer have the burning desire necessary to play the game for a living; to continue to do so would be unfair to the next organization with whom I would eventually sign.
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“I realize this decision is surprising to many, but I know in my heart that it is the right decision and I look forward to spending more time with my family and pursuing other interests.”
In December, Locker dislocated his left shoulder for the third time, requiring season-ending surgery. He also dealt with foot, hip and thumb injuries in his NFL career.
Last year, the Titans declined to pick up an option on Locker’s contract, making him a free agent this offseason. In 30 career games, including 23 starts, for the Titans, Locker completed 57.5 percent of his passes for 4,967 yards, 27 passing touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
A football and baseball star at Ferndale High School, Locker in 2006 became one of the most celebrated recruits to ever sign with the Huskies. “Montlake Jake” would become one of the most popular players to ever wear a UW uniform.
He could run and he could throw. He was tough and he was humble. And he genuinely seemed to love being a Husky.
At 6 feet 3, 230 pounds, he was once described as a bigger version of hall-of-fame quarterback Steve Young. During one of the darkest periods in program history, Locker was a rare bright spot. He led the Huskies on a late drive to upset No. 3 USC, 16-13, at Husky Stadium in September 2009, helping to wash away some of the sting of the 0-12 season the year before.
After that 2009 season, Locker announced he would return to UW for his senior year, despite some analysts projecting him as the potential top pick in the NFL draft. (Quarterback Sam Bradford wound up as the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, getting $50 million guaranteed from the St. Louis Rams.)
Locker said then that his decision to return wasn’t about money. As the eighth pick a year later, he wound up signing a rookie contract with the Titans worth $12 million over four years.
Before that, as a senior in 2010, Locker left his mark at UW. After the team’s 3-6 start that season, Locker finished his Husky career with four straight wins, including a memorable victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.
“This,” he said after the game, “is the experience that I came back for.”
|Jake Locker’s career NFL stats|