CHARLOTTE – Linebacker Thomas Davis has always said he wanted to finish his career where it started, and that fate has been secured with a two-year contract extension through the 2017 season.
"Signing this extension is something I've wanted to do all along, and it just confirms that I now get to officially end my career as a Carolina Panther and that means the world to me," Davis said. "You see so many guys come through this league that can't say they finished with the same team. It's truly an honor. I feel this is the best organization in the entire league, and I don't take this for granted."
Since returning in 2012 from three anterior cruciate ligament tears in his right knee, Davis has been one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL. A four-time team captain, Davis has posted at least 100 tackles in each of the last three seasons, missing just five games during that span.
He's a critical piece of the Carolina defense with his physicality at the line of scrimmage and unique athleticism in pass coverage.
"Thomas has been and continues to be an integral part of our team on the field and off the field," general manager Dave Gettleman said. "We're thrilled we could get this done. He's a lynchpin in our defense."
And he is a universally respected leader in the locker room.
"Thomas has developed into a mature, wise, veteran NFL player and the young guys will listen to him," Gettleman said. "They know his story and they see how he prepares. That in it of itself is leadership. And he can keep things loose, keep things light. He shows them that there is time to talk and time to play. That example that he sets is huge."
The Panthers' first-round draft choice in 2005, his career totals include 831 tackles, 17.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, six interceptions and 34 passes defensed. Davis is the second-leading tackler in franchise history and has played in 117 regular season games with 99 starts – both team records for a linebacker.
The 32-year-old Davis doesn't look like he's slowing down any time soon. But he feels the time will be right to step away after the 2017 season. Until then, he'll be working relentlessly toward one goal.
"I won't really think about retiring as a player until that day comes," Davis said. "It's just all about the excitement and enjoying today. I have three years to get a job done that I set out for a long time ago – and that's to bring a Super Bowl to Carolina."