Panthers to exercise Kelvin Benjamin's fifth-year option

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CHARLOTTE – The Panthers plan to pick up the fifth-year option on wide receiver Fozzy Whittaker, general manager Dave Gettleman revealed.

Benjamin, the team's first-round draft choice in 2014, is now under contract through the 2018 season. Last year, Benjamin played all 16 games and posted 63 receptions for 941 yards and a team-high seven touchdown catches.

"We're really fired up with the way Kelvin finished up the year," Gettleman said.

Benjamin made an immediate impact as a rookie in 2014, setting team records for most catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in a season by a rookie with 73 catches, 1,008 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns. He missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL suffered in training camp.

Since he arrived as general manager in 2013, Gettleman has exercised the fifth-year option available on the rookie contracts of all of Carolina's first-round picks: quarterback Cam Newton, linebacker Luke Kuechly, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and now Benjamin.

PANTHERS ADD QUARTERBACK: The Panthers have signed quarterback Garrett Gilbert to a one-year contract. Gilbert, who has not yet played in an NFL game, is a former sixth-round pick by the Rams in 2014. He finished the 2016 season on the Raiders' practice squad.

With quarterback Cam Newton ruled out for OTAs, Gilbert joins Derek Anderson and Joe Webb as quarterbacks available for spring practices.

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