After 11 NFL seasons spent between two teams, former Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny announced his retirement from the league this week.
Posluszny continued the long-standing tradition of gifted linebackers attending Penn State, furthering the decree of “Linebacker U”, when he committed to the university prior to the 2003 season. “Poz” as he’s known throughout Happy Valley, joined a Nittany Lion team that won nine games the previous season, but was clearly still in a transitional period.
Penn State won just seven games in Posluszny’s first two season in State College, in which he saw the field somewhat sparingly his freshman year. Posluszny recorded 36 tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery. As the season progressed, he saw action more and more, and eventually would be named to the Big Ten All Freshman team for his efforts.
Posluszny would become a Nittany Lion starting linebacker before the 2004 season, and he rewarded Penn State by starting all 11 games for a defense that held opposing offenses to less than 21 points per game. Surprisingly, the team would win just four games that year, as the Penn State offense would be held to ten or fewer points six times. Posluszny would finish the season with 104 tackles and three sacks. He was given All Big Ten Second Team honors.
Penn State would rebound in a big way the following season, as the offense came to life, providing a balanced attack for a continually stellar defense. The Nittany Lions finished the season 11-1 and defeated Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Posluszny was named a team captain prior to the season. The junior would record 116 tackles, including 14 for a loss and four sacks. During the season. For his work, Posluszny was named First Team All American and given the Bednarik and Butkis awards, as the nation’s top defensive player and linebacker.
Posluszny would add to his career total throughout his senior year at Penn State, adding another 116 tackles to his career total. Posluszny would break the school’s career tackle record, finishing his career with 372. That record has since been surpassed by fellow linebacker Dan Connor. The Nittany Lions would slip following their 11-1 season, finishing 2006 9-4. The record was good enough to put Penn State in the Outback Bowl, where they defeated Tennessee 20-10.
Following his four years at Penn State, Posluszny entered the 2007 NFL Draft. Despite being the, at the time, career tackles leader at Penn State, Posluszny was not drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, falling to the second pick in the second round. The Buffalo Bills selected Posluszny after trading picks 43 and 74 to the Detroit Lions to move up nine spots to select the Penn State linebacker. The Lions would use the first of the acquired picks to select quarterback Drew Stanton.
Posluszny spent the first four seasons of his NFL with the Bills, often injured, as he completed a full season just once. Posluszny played just three games his rookie season, recording 26 tackles before breaking his arm in week three. He was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Following his return from injury, 2008 would mark the only season of his four in Buffalo in which he would start and finish all 16 games. The results justified the Bills’ trade up, as Posluszny finished with 110 tackles.
Posluszny re-broke a bone in his left forearm in the 2009 season opener, missing four games. He would eventually play in 12 games that year, recording one more tackle than the year prior, despite playing in four less games, finishing with 111 tackles. He also picked up his first career sack in 2009.
For the second year in a row, Posluszny left week one with an injury. This time, he sprained his MCL and missed two games as a result. In the 14 games Posluszny would play, he recorded a career high 151 tackles, inlcuding 103 solo tackles.
Prior to the 2011 season, the Bills tendered Posluszny to a one-year deal, but the contract would become void after the NFLPA signed a new collective bargaining agreement. Despite the two sides having a former deal in place, Posluszny chose to leave the Bills after the new agreement, signing a six-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, worth $45 million.
The signing paid off for the rebuilding Jaguars, who got three season of Posluszny missing just one game out of 48. During that time, Posluszny’s only missed game came in week 11 in 2013 after suffering a concussion the week prior. The concussion snapped a 54-game consecutive streak for Posluszny. From 2011-2013, Posluszny was a staple in an ever-growing Jaguars’ defense, recording 420 tackles, seven sacks and seven interceptions. A career high 162 tackles in 2013 led to his lone career Pro Bowl selection.
Posluszny would suffer a torn pectoral in week seven of the 2014 season, ending his season after just seven games. He would rack up 69 tackles through seven weeks, however, a number that would put him on pace for 158 had he played a full season.
The linebacker would start and complete 14 games in 2015, despite losing snaps to Telvin Smith throughout the season. He would miss weeks five and 14 with separate injuries. Despite missing two games, Posluszny’s production didn’t slip tremendously, as he recorded 133 tackles that season.
Posluszny would not miss another game in the final two seasons of his career, starting all 16 in 2016 before taking more of a backup role this past season. The Penn Stater would record 133 tackles in 2016, the second consecutive season he would reach that number. This past season, Posluszny started 11 of the year’s 16 games, recording 61 tackles after taking a slightly lesser role.
His career would end without a Super Bowl appearance, and just one Pro Bowl selection despite a stellar 11 seasons. The injury bug plagued Posluszny throughout his career, as he completed a 16 game schedule just four times in 11 years. The 11-year vet finished his career with 1214 tackles, 16 sacks, 15 interceptions and eight forced fumbles.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports