CHARLOTTE – Record-setting tight end Greg Olsen has signed a three-year contract extension through the 2018 season.
"It's really a dream come true," Olsen said. "Since we've come to Charlotte, we very quickly realized that this is home. This community quickly embraced our family, so we put down roots here. We love it here. This is home for us.
"Now to have this contract that guarantees that I'll play the rest of my career in Charlotte is a tremendous blessing. We're just so thankful for the team believing in me and wanting me to still be a part of this. As a team, we have a lot of special times ahead of us."
Olsen is coming off a career year in which he earned his first Pro Bowl appearance after setting franchise records for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. Olsen's 84 receptions topped his previous team record of 73 in 2013, and his 1,008 receiving yards surpassed his previous team record of 843 in 2012. His production helped the Panthers win the NFC South title for the second consecutive season.
"The future around here is extremely bright," Olsen said. "That's pretty evident with the young influx of talent that came in last year, along with the seasoned vets we have to lead the way. Coach (Ron) Rivera and his staff, since they've been here, all we've done is improve and reach new levels. There's no reason why we can't continue to build like we have the last couple of years and reach our ultimate goal of reaching the Super Bowl."
Olsen has played the last four seasons with Carolina after spending his first four with the Chicago Bears, who selected him with the 31st overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft from the University of Miami. On the eve of training camp in 2011, the Panthers traded a third-round pick to the Bears for Olsen.
He ranked third on the team in catches with 45 and receiving yards with 540 his first season in Carolina, combining with tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Richie Brockel for a then-team record of 1,008 receiving yards for the position group – a number he singlehandedly achieved this past year. Olsen followed that with 69 catches for 843 yards in 2012 – both team records for a tight end at the time – then continued to trend upward with 73 catches for 816 yards in 2013.
Olsen, however, is more than just a pass-catching tight end. He's a trusted blocker who rarely comes off the field, and when injuries beset the offensive line and fullback spot midway through 2104, he took on a bigger blocking role. Even so, he still posted career numbers, ranking second among NFL tight ends in receptions and third in receiving yards.
He is also an iron man of sorts, having played in 126 consecutive games – the second longest active streak among NFL tight ends - and he's the only tight end to catch at least five touchdown passes every year since 2008.
Olsen has missed a practice here and there, though, to be with his two-year-old son TJ is his successful battle against hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The personal struggle gave birth to Olsen's HEARTest Yard initiative, which benefits Levine Children's Hospital and contributed to him being Carolina's recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award in 2014.
Olsen signed the contract Thursday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium with his wife, children, parents and brother at his side. He said the family plans to celebrate with a weekend trip to New York that his wife had already planned for his 30th birthday.