The Carolina Panthers announced on the team website that they have picked up the fifth-year option on Luke Kuechly. The middle linebacker is now signed through the 2016 season and will make $11.1 million next year, according to Pro Football Talk.
The move isn’t really a surprise and it was a matter of the team making it official before the May 3rd deadline.
Kuechly was drafted ninth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft and was an impact player almost immediately. He won the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2012 and led the league in tackles. The following season he went on to win the NFC Defensive Player of the Year award and was selected to his first Pro Bowl.
He continued his high level of play last year once again leading the league in tackles and being selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl. He has been the leader on the defensive side of the ball and been a reason on the team winning consecutive NFC South division titles.
Even though Kuechly is now extended through 2016, it would not be a surprise if the two sides continue to work towards a long-term contract extension this offseason. The front office has been busy this offseason working on extensions with a number of key players who are nearing the end of their contracts.
Tight end Greg Olsen has already signed a three-year extension and it is being reported by ESPN’s David Newton that Thomas Davis’ contract extension is a “work in progress.” The biggest negotiations though may be with quarterback Cam Newton, who will be a free agent at the end of this season.