Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has been the key cog in the Panthers defense becoming one of the most dangerous units in the NFL over the past two seasons.
The Panthers will exercise their fifth-year contract option on their star linebacker for the 2016 season, giving him an $11.1 million salary for that season.
A large contract extension is imminent for Kuechly in the near future though as he is arguably the team’s best player.
Kuechly was drafted by the Panthers in 2012 with the ninth overall pick, and he became an instant star by registering 164 tackles with a sack and two interceptions.
The Panthers linebacker continued to improve as he won Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 after coming up with 156 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions.
With Kuechly’s impact, the Panthers defense finished second in total defense and scoring defense with the help of their strong defensive line that consisted of defensive ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, along with defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.
Although the Panthers defense struggled early in the 2014 season, they caught fire toward the end of the season and won their last four games while allowing just 43 points over that winning streak.
They also won their first playoff game in the Cam Newton era by beating the Arizona Cardinals.