The Carolina Panthers have signed middle linebacker Luke Kuechly to a new five-year contract extension, according to NFL Media Insider Rand Getlin.
Kuechly’s deal sees him become the highest paid linebacker in the NFL, with a deal worth $62 million.
Big money for a linebacker
Linebacker is usually one of the lesser-paid positions in the NFL, with other defensive positions like defensive end and cornerback usually paid higher on average.
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However, former ninth overall pick Kuechly is more than worth his new salary having averaged 98 solo tackles per season in his three years in the NFL.
He also has seven interceptions in his career as well as a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries. In 2013, Kuechly was named NFL & NFC Defensive Player of the Year and in 2012 was named NFL Defensive Rookier of the Year.
The linebacker would also appear in both the 2013 and 2014 Pro Bowls and was named First Team All-Pro both those years.
The signing of Kuechly as well as quarterback Cam Newton to extensions this offseason shows the Panthers intent to build on the back of two decent seasons having successive play-off years.
2011’s first overall draft pick, Newton, signed a new five year $103.8 million deal in June.
The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner will be looking to improve on last year’s 18 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions, where he lead the Panthers to a 7-8-1 record, just enough to win the NFC South.
Kuechly and Newton begin their season on Sunday in Jacksonville, Florida against the Jaguars.