CHARLOTTE — The Panthers are staying busy, and they got a captain back in the fold on Saturday.
Cornerback Donte Jackson agreed to terms on a new three-year contract, a significant boost for a defense which was leaning young.
At 26, Jackson is the elder of the cornerback room, as none of the other players at his position are older than 25.
But the maturity Jackson adds is more than a function of chronological age, as he was voted a team captain last year, and blossomed in the role. This new deal allows him to build on that, and continue to grow as one of the leaders in the locker room.
"It's crazy. Now that I'm older, I listen more," Jackson said last fall after receiving the honor. "I actually absorb coaching, I absorb coach (Matt) Rhule and the scheme and the plan. The brand, you know? I think this being a football place, a football atmosphere, a bunch of football guys around, this is a perfect home for me, that I was able to mature.
"Coach Rhule and them were on me from the start, just about maturing. They weren't worried about the football; they were worried about maturing. And that's one thing, coming into year four, I wasn't thinking about being a captain, just maturing and leading by example. My teammates noticed my growth, and how I come in every day and just be the same guy, but elevate it."
He also played some of his best football last season, before missing the final five games with a groin injury.
He tied for the team lead with two interceptions, and had a team-high 10 passes defensed, and a forced fumble last year.
The former second-round pick has 12 career interceptions.
Donte Jackson has 12 career interceptions since being drafted by the Panthers in 2018.