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Panthers pick up 2 option years for linebacker Davis

The Panthers have picked up two option years for outside linebacker Thomas Davis and are in the process of trying to restructure the contracts of a few veteran players, league sources told the Observer on Friday.

The team exercised the 2014 and 2015 option years on Davis’ contract after the 10th-year player continued his successful recovery from three knee surgeries. Davis will make $13.5 million over the next two years, including a $5 million signing bonus.

Davis’ contract news was first reported by Pro Football Talk.

Davis, in his second full season back from three ACL surgeries on his right knee, finished second on the team behind middle linebacker Luke Kuechly with 123 tackles in 2013. Davis, who turns 31 next month, also had four sacks.

Meanwhile, general manager Dave Gettleman again is looking to restructure contracts in an effort to free up more salary cap space.

The most obvious candidates are the two players with the highest cap numbers: defensive end Charles Johnson ($16.4 million) and center Ryan Kalil ($10.4 million), both of whom agreed to redo their deals last year.

Johnson and Kalil were among seven Panthers players who restructured their contracts last year. When Gettleman was hired in January 2013, the Panthers were about $16 million over the cap.

While the Panthers are close to $20 million under the projected $130 million cap for 2014, Gettleman has said repeatedly the Panthers remain “cap-challenged.”

The Panthers have 21 unrestricted free agents, including defensive end Greg Hardy, who is looking for a lucrative deal after tying the franchise record with 15 sacks in 2013.

Carolina also has to clear space on future caps for the long-term extensions quarterback Cam Newton and Kuechly will command.

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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