While some of the league’s top young linebackers have received lucrative contract extensions this summer, Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and his representatives have sat back and let them establish the market.
Now Kuechly is on the verge of shattering it.
The Panthers have reached an agreement with Kuechly on a five-year, $62 million extension that will make him the highest-paid inside linebacker in NFL history, a league source said Thursday.
The NFL.com’s Rand Getlin was the first to report Kuechly’s contract terms.
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Kuechly declined to talk about his new contract Thursday afternoon because he had not yet signed it.
Kuechly’s $12.4 million per year average tops Seattle’s Bobby Wagner, who received a four-year extension worth $10.75 million a year in August.
The Panthers had no comment on Kuechly’s contract talks, which the Observer reported had intensified during training camp.
Kuechly, who has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons, is scheduled to address the media after Thursday’s practice, per his game-week custom.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has said he didn’t want to negotiate any contracts during the season. That deadline likely spurred the two sides to finish the deal.
In addition to Wagner, linebackers Lavonte David and DeAndre Levy also received huge pay raises this summer.
The Panthers have been locking up their young talent in recent months. Since the season ended, they’ve extended the contracts of tight end Greg Olsen, linebacker Thomas Davis and quarterback Cam Newton, whose $103.8 million extension was the most lucrative in team history.