Derek Wolfe Retires from NFL at Age 32; Won Super Bowl 50 with Broncos

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 29, 2022

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 13: Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe #95 as the Broncos take the field for their game against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado on October 13, 2019. (Photo by Joe Amon/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images"n
Joe Amon/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Veteran defensive lineman Derek Wolfe announced his retirement from the NFL on Friday at age 32.

Wolfe made it official with a video posted on the Denver Broncos' official Twitter account:

Denver Broncos @Broncos

“After 🔟 seasons in the NFL, I’ve decided it’s time to step away from the game. Time for a new beginning.” <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThankYouDWolfe?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ThankYouDWolfe</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/Derek_Wolfe95?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Derek_Wolfe95</a> <a href="https://t.co/qeCyOrKLw7">pic.twitter.com/qeCyOrKLw7</a>

Wolfe's first eight NFL seasons were spent with the Broncos before he signed with the Baltimore Ravens ahead of the 2020 campaign. After playing for Baltimore in 2020, a hip injury kept him out for the entire 2021 season.

Denver selected Wolfe with the No. 36 overall pick in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft out of the University of Cincinnati.

He was instantly an important piece of the Broncos defense, starting all 16 games as a rookie and remaining a starter throughout his tenure.

Wolfe was one of the best rookie defenders in the NFL, finishing with 40 tackles, nine tackles of loss and six sacks, the latter of which was a career high until he recorded seven sacks in his final season with the Broncos in 2019.

His biggest accomplishment came during the 2015 season when he helped the Broncos win Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers.

Wolfe started three games during that playoff run and racked up 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks for a defense that essentially carried Denver to victory.

Overall, Wolfe started 116 of the 122 regular-season games he played in during his career and finished with 350 tackles, 52 tackles for loss, 34 sacks and one interception.

Wolfe's versatility and ability to play all over the defensive line made him a supremely valuable player for the Broncos, and his presence is a big reason they reached the playoffs in each of his first four seasons.

The only thing that held Wolfe back was a history of injuries, as he missed time because of injury in six of the nine NFL seasons he played in.

When healthy, Wolfe was a productive and important player, even if he didn't receive the same level of credit as other Broncos defensive stars of the time, such as Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.