Jake Delhomme is the only quarterback in Carolina Panthers' history to start five consecutive season openers. After signing a five-year contract extension on Thursday, that number should continue to increase.
Delhomme joined the Panthers in 2003 as an unrestricted free agent from New Orleans and has guided Carolina to three playoff appearances, two NFC South titles and an NFC championship. He ranks as the franchise's all-time leader with 2,348 pass attempts, 1,402 completions, 17,243 passing yards, 112 touchdown passes and nine games with 300 or more passing yards.
"My wife and I were very happy, but truly, honestly, we're more excited to know that we can be in Charlotte, North Carolina. That meant the most to us," he said. "It's such a relief to know that we're here with the Panther organization.
"To be able to play here, to play for Big Cat (owner/founder Jerry Richardson) and the Panther family, I feel it's pretty special."
Delhomme's contract was scheduled to expire following the 2009 season. The extension will keep him with Carolina through the 2014 season. Delhomme said he is honored by the team's commitment to him.
"We all know last year was a good year that ended terribly, especially for myself," he said. "That's fuel to my fire to work (hard) this offseason the way we have been and I have been so far. I'm looking forward to adding a few more pieces (in the draft) on Saturday and Sunday and seeing what we can do."
Since 2003, Delhomme has compiled a 49-30 regular season record in 79 starts and a 54-33 overall mark, including the postseason. Three of the four times he has played in all 16 games, the Panthers have made the playoffs. Delhomme has been particularly effective against the NFC South, helping Carolina to 21-9 record with him at quarterback.
"We think very highly of Jake and the contributions he has made to the Carolina Panthers," said general manager Marty Hurney. "He has been a leader on the field, is a talented quarterback, is a perfect fit for our team and was a big reason we were able to win the NFC South last year. He has also always represented the team in the highest manner and earned the respect of everyone throughout the organization."
In his first appearance with the Panthers in 2003, Delhomme was inserted at quarterback to begin the second half and rallied Carolina from a 17-0 deficit to a 24-23 victory over Jacksonville, the first of his 18 career game-winning drives. He started the next week at Tampa Bay and did not miss a start until he suffered an injured finger in Week 13 of the 2006 season that caused him to be inactive for the next three games.
Delhomme missed the last 13 games of the 2007 season with an elbow injury before being placed on injured reserve and undergoing Tommy John surgery. He returned last year to lead the Panthers to a 12-4 record and the NFC South title.