CHARLOTTE – Linebacker Thomas Davis has made it clear he wants to keep playing beyond 2018.
Head coach Ron Rivera believes Davis has "high quality" football left in him.
But he's only under contract through 2018.
Hence the reason why he was fielding questions about what could possibly be his final home game with the Panthers this Sunday.
"If it's up to me, it's not," Davis said. "It's extremely tough having that uncertainty, not really knowing what's going to happen in the future. But at the same time, it's out of my control, so it's not something I can really dwell on. It's all about going out and playing hard and competing for my teammates."
The three-time Pro Bowler has talked about the possibility of retirement for the past few years, but he feels confident about his ability to keep producing at the level he's accustomed to.
Davis has played in 10 games this season (he was suspended for the first four), recording 69 tackles and six passes defensed.
He posted at least 100 tackles every season from 2012-16 after playing sparingly from 2009-11 as he battled to overcome three torn ACLs over the course of three years.
He's become a legendary Panther with his toughness and tenacity, and it's almost unfathomable to think of him playing for another NFL team.
But he obviously wouldn't be the first aging legend to leave the only team he's ever known to wrap up a career – if it came to that.
"Man, I only want to wear these colors. I've expressed that over and over," Davis said, "but at the same time, you know I don't want to be put into a situation where I'm forced to walk away too early. We'll see what happens."
At the very least, Davis knows he has one game left at Bank of America Stadium. He hopes to run out that tunnel again next fall. But for now, he's fixated on beating the Falcons in the Panthers' home finale.
"If this is my last opportunity to play in front of this home crowd, I want to make sure that it's going out on a really good note. I never want to walk off this field as a loser," Davis said. "I'll give every ounce of effort to make sure that doesn't happen."