The Washington Commanders have announced that Ryan Kerrigan, the franchise's official leader in career sacks, will sign a one-day contract with the team and announce his retirement.
Kerrigan, a first-round pick by Washington in 2011, spent a decade with the team and played in 156 games, including starts in 139 consecutive contests. He was selected to the Pro Bowl four times, including three straight from 2016-18.
"While I'm thankful for the amazing times and memories I was able to have as a player, I'm equally thankful to now have the wisdom and courage to walk away," Kerrigan said in a statement. "We all eventually come to the end of our playing days, and that time is now for me."
With his signature "HBK" celebration, Kerrigan had a long-standing reputation of being a fearsome pass-rusher. He recorded at least five sacks in all 10 of his seasons with Washington. From 2014-18, he recorded double-digit sacks in four of five seasons, including a career-high 13.5 in 2014.
Kerrigan recorded three interceptions in his career, all three of which were returned for touchdowns. The first came in Kerrigan's professional debut, when he picked off a pass from Eli Manning and returned it nine for a score in a 28-14 win over the New York Giants.
Kerrigan recorded 454 tackles in career with 119 tackles for loss and 147 quarterback hits while with Washington. He also had 25 pass breakups and 26 forced fumbles.
A fan favorite from the time he joined the Washington franchise following a standout career with Purdue -- he was a unanimous All-American with first team All-Big Ten honors who was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Smith–Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year – Kerrigan gave the team several memorable moments.
Aside from his pick-six against the Giants, he forced the ball loose from Dak Prescott's grasp that led to a 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys in 2018. In 2020, he led the team with two sacks, which helped him break the team's official sack record.
"It meant a lot. It's pretty crazy," Kerrigan said after the game. "This organization has been around for a really long time, seen a lot of really productive players come through. To be at the top of that list is pretty special for me."
Kerrigan's influence was felt beyond the field as well. In 2013, he started his charitable foundation, Blitz for the Better, which provides support for seriously ill, special needs and physically challenged kids. He also was a constant source of knowledge for his younger teammates, and he was always willing to pass it on.
"I always thank RK for doing that, and I always thank him for the type of man that he is and just [taking] me with open arms and teaching me the game," Chase Young said after Washington's 2020 playoff game. "RK knows it's all love, and we're going to have this relationship forever."
Daron Payne, who played alongside Kerrigan for three seasons, viewed Kerrigan as "a guy that you can just sit back and watch and emulate."
"Everything he does is the right way to do things, and you can learn so much from him if you just sit back and watch him," Payne said. "I appreciate him, I love him to death and I'm just happy that I got a chance to play with him."
Kerrigan said the relationship he made throughout his NFL career are what made it so special.
"My teammates, coaches and all support staff members have become some of my best friends and the time I was able to share with them made going to "work" every day something I cherished."
After Washington's playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kerrigan had the chance to reflect on his career wearing the Burgundy & Gold. He spent some extra time on the field long after the game was over reflecting on all the moments he had spent at FedExField.
"To think I've been in one place for 10 years and have had the fond memories that I've had, especially at FedExField, I just kind of wanted to go back and relive some of those moments," Kerrigan said. "I was glad I did that, because I'll think about that moment and reflect on it in the years to come."