By: Hays Carlyon
Jaguars first-year defensive lineman Rodney Gunter announced his retirement on Sunday, releasing a statement that revealed he has a life-threatening heart condition.
The 28-year-old Gunter played his first five seasons in Arizona. He signed a three-year, $18-million contract with $11.1-million guaranteed in March.
Here is Gunter’s statement.
“These last three weeks have been a hard pill to swallow. Seeing my dreams vanish right in front of me has been extremely difficult.
After seeing several heart specialists I was told if I continue to play ball with my condition, I could possibly rupture or tear my aorta which is enlarged. This can cause sudden death or a severe stroke.
There is a 50/50 chance that surgery will fix my current health condition. But at the moment, I do not meet the criteria to undergo the operation. Those who qualify must have 5.5+ cm enlarged aorta, while mine measures 5.0 cm. At this time, I cannot play or have the surgery so I must wait. So at this moment, the best choice for me and my family is to walk away from this game.
I appreciate the Jaguars for giving me an opportunity, and I’m thankful for everyone who has believed in me along the way. Thank you!”
Gunter was part of the defensive line rebuild this offseason, along with tackle Al Woods. Both are now out before the Jaguars conduct their first practice in pads, scheduled for Monday. Woods opted out of the season prior to the start of training camp because of COVID-19 concerns.
The Jaguars defensive line lost Pro-Bowl end Calais Campbell this offseason in a trade to Baltimore. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue has yet to sign his franchise tag tender and remains away from the team.
The Jaguars did sign veteran defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan on Monday. The 27-year-old Lake City native is entering his seventh season. Jernigan, a former Florida State standout, has recorded 132 career tackles (29 for loss) with 17 1/2 sacks while with Baltimore and Philadelphia.
The Jaguars open the season at home against Indianapolis on Sept. 13.
(You can email Hays at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)