CHARLOTTE – Tyler Larsen, a key piece of the Panthers' offensive line depth and a potential starter in the near future, has signed a two-year contract extension through the 2020 season. Larsen was set to become a restricted free agent at season's end.
"I'm excited and grateful. It's a little overwhelming," Larsen said. "It just leaves me more hungry. I know I can really do more in my career."
Larsen is expected to start at center in Thursday's preseason opener against the Bills. He'll be in there with veteran Ryan Kalil taking a cautious approach to preseason snaps in what the five-time Pro Bowler has said will be his final NFL season. Larsen is an obvious candidate to take over in 2019, having started 10 games in Kalil's place last season and five games in 2016.
Does he envision being the center of the future for Carolina?
"Yeah, if that's how the cards play out," Larsen said. "I'm ready for whatever challenges are ahead."
Larsen, who first joined the Panthers as a futures signing following the 2015 season, also has extensive experience at guard and could still figure into that equation this season, especially with left guard Amini Silatolu set to undergo knee surgery on Friday.
"I know that I have to be ready to play those three inside positions," Larsen said.
The 6-foot-4, 325-pounder out of Utah State was an undrafted rookie in 2014 who didn't earn a regular season snap until joining the Panthers. He's appeared in 22 games over the past two seasons.