Former University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 draft, provided his own stunner on a day of stunners Tuesday when he announced his retirement at 26. An unrestricted free agent who spent all four of his NFL years with the Tennessee Titans, Locker said in a statement that he had “lost his desire” to play and that “it wouldn’t be fair” to a new organization to sign a contract with that attitude.
“I am retiring from football after much reflection and discussion with my family,” Locker said via Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports. “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.
“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.”
One of the most popular and productive players in UW history and a plus athlete with mobility, Locker, from Ferndale, Whatcom County, is likely to be regarded as a professional bust, or close to it, in large part because of injuries that stunted his development.
Locker made only 30 career appearances but missed nine contests each of the past two seasons. He never played more than 11 games in any of his four seasons. Locker ends his career having completed 57.5 percent of his passes for 4,967 yards, 27 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
Locker showed occasional flashes. He threw for 378 yards and two TDs in a 44-41 Tennessee win over Detroit Sept. 23, 2012; had a 309-yard game against Houston Dec. 2, 2012, and a 326-yard, 2-TD day against San Francisco Oct. 20, 2013. But Locker never really developed as a pocket passer.
At Washington from 2007-10, Locker threw 53 touchdown passes and ran for 29 scores. At No. 8 overall, he was the highest-drafted quarterback in Husky history.