Rodney Gunter is calling it a career, at least temporarily. The Jaguars defensive end revealed last night that he’s stepping away from football at the advice of doctors. In a procedural move, the Jaguars placed Gunter on the reserve/retired list.
In a statement, Gunter explained that he was diagnosed with a severe heart condition, and he could have ruptured his aorta is he continued his football career. Surgery could eventually remedy the issue, and that would theoretically allow him to return to the football field. However, the 28-year-old currently doesn’t meet the specific criteria for the procedure, so he’s understandably stepping away from football as he awaits his next steps.
On Monday, head coach Doug Marrone praised the player’s offseason work ethic, and he revealed that he offered Gunter a staff position with the purpose of keeping him around the team.
“These are the things that are very difficult,” Marrone said. “Things come up that are out of your control and take away things that you love and want to do…It’s just an awful feeling. It really is. It’s just tough.”
The 2015 fourth-round pick had spent the first five seasons of his career with the Cardinals, including a 2019 campaign where he finished with 31 tackles and three sacks in 13 games. He signed a three-year, $18MM deal with Jacksonville this past offseason, and he was expected to replace traded defensive lineman Calais Campbell.
Now, Jacksonville will be scrambling to figure out their defensive line depth, especially with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue avoiding camp. As ESPN’s Michael DiRocco notes, the team’s already seen nose tackle Al Woods and defensive end Lerentee McCray opt out of the upcoming season, while defensive tackles Dontavius Russell and Brian Price were placed on IR.