Cam Newton was the number one overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Other notable top 10 picks that year include Von Miller, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith and Tyron Smith. Oh yeah, and J.J. Watt was #11.
One player that sort of slipped under the radar, though, was former Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker, who was selected eighth. We say "former" because Locker just stunned the sports world by announcing his sudden retirement from football at the young age of 26. His reason? He simply didn't have a burning desire to play the game anymore.
Thanks to poor health throughout his career, Locker only played in 30 games in his four NFL seasons, and never more than 11 in a year. In both 2012 and 2014, he had shoulder surgery, and in 2013 he missed nine games because of a foot injury.
Even when he was on the field, Locker was hardly an elite quarterback. He finishes his career with 27 touchdowns and 22 interceptions for 4,967 yards, including two seasons where he threw more picks than scores. He has a career quarterback rating of 79. For comparison's sake, there have been eight single-season passing performances of greater than 4,967 yards, and Matthew Stafford had exactly that yardage total during the 2012 season.
However, because he's leaving at such a young age, Locker is probably going to avoid a lot of the long-term ailments that many NFL veterans see. And he made $12.5 million over his career, which isn't too shabby. He should easily have a $5-6 million leftover after taxes. That's more than usual, because Tennessee has no state income taxes.
A while back, we wrote about NFL quarterbacks who had gotten rich as career backups–Locker may have started in 23 of his 30 NFL appearances, but by getting out now, like those career backups, he should live a very comfortable post-NFL life.
So what's this 26 year old planning to do in retirement? According to an interview with Jake's father from today's Seattle Times, his son plans to remodel his house, hang out with his wife and two kids. He also recently bought a local gym which is appropriately called "Locker Room Fitness". Here's Jake's father's full quote from the Seattle Times.
"For most of us, it would be a thing where you would probably continue to go down the path he was on. But that's the difference between Jake and most people. He's got a way about him that's different. There will be a lot of people that will not agree with the decision that he's made. But you've got to be pretty proud of a guy that can stand up and say he's not feeling it anymore and be able to walk away from it. It would have been easier to just come back and sign on with a team and play rather than make the tough call to say, 'I'm going to walk away and find myself something that makes me happier than this is, right now, anyway.'"