Thomas Davis

This Date In Transactions History: Thomas Davis Signs Extension With Panthers

“I now get to officially end my career as a Carolina Panther and that means the world to me.”

That’s how Thomas Davis responded to the two-year extension he inked on this date in 2015. Of course, like most sports stories, things rarely work out as expected.

The 14th overall pick out of Georgia back in 2005, Davis was a key member of the Panthers defense for more than a decade. While the linebacker was limited to only seven games between the 2009 and 2011 seasons, he otherwise missed only nine contests in his 11 healthy seasons with the organization. By the time 2015 came around, Davis had already racked up nearly 750 tackles to go along with 17.5 sacks, six interceptions, and 13 forced fumbles.

He was a Panthers icon, and with only one year remaining on his contract, he was eager to ink one last deal with the only organization he had ever played for. So, on June 15, 2015, the two sides agreed to a two-year extension that would last through the 2017 campaign. In total, the player earned about $6MM per year on the new deal, which was a modest amount for a linebacker eyeing the end of his career.

In an unpredictable twist, Davis was about to go on the best three-year stretch of his career. During his age-32 campaign in 2015, the veteran earned his first-career All Pro nod and Pro Bowl appearance, and he was wildly productive in three postseason contests. He’d earn Pro Bowl spots in 2016 and 2017, as well. Prior to that 2017 season, Davis inked one more extension, this time for one year. Heading into that 2018 campaign, the linebacker made it clear that it would be his last season.

After sitting out the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, he ended up starting all 12 of his appearances in 2018, finishing with 79 tackles. That 2018 season ended up being a disappointment for the Panthers; after having made the postseason in four of the previous five seasons, Carolina failed to crack the playoffs after going 7-9. This disappointment apparently influenced Davis to give it another go, but the Panthers weren’t interested in a reunion, with Davis telling reporters that the organization wanted “to go in a different direction” at the position.

“I wanted to be back,” Davis said (via “I wanted to be part of a group that came and just [righted] the wrongs that we had this season. As one of the leaders of this team, I took full responsibility for some of the things that we allowed to happen and the games that we lost consecutively. I wanted to come back and wanted to help fix that. Unfortunately I’m not going to have that opportunity.”

Davis ended up catching on with the Chargers for the 2019 campaign, collecting 112 tackles in 16 starts. After getting into seven games with Washington in 2020, the linebacker decided to hang up his cleats.

While Davis thought he was going to end his career with the Panthers following that 2017 campaign, a late-career breakout changed some things. Fortunately for the player, he still got his wish to retire with the Panthers when he inked a one-year contract with the team in March, 2021.

Thomas Davis To Retire After 2020 Season

Thomas Davis‘ 16th NFL season will be his last. The veteran linebacker announced (via Instagram) Washington’s Week 17 game in Philadelphia will be his final regular-season contest.

The former Panthers and Chargers defender signed with Washington in March, reuniting with Ron Rivera. He has operated as a part-time reserve in what is set to be his farewell campaign.

The 2005 first-round pick, however, was a full-time starter from 2006-19 and will be most remembered for overcoming three ACL tears early in his career to form a long-term linebacking partnership with Luke Kuechly in Carolina. Davis also played in Super Bowl 50 despite having suffered a broken arm in the 2015 NFC championship game. He made seven tackles in the Panthers’ loss to the Broncos and played all 60 of his team’s defensive snaps.

This announcement comes two-plus years after Davis’ previous retirement indication. He said the 2018 season in Carolina would be his last, but a four-game suspension that year scuttled those plans. Davis, 37, instead went on to play the 2019 season with the Chargers — starting all 16 Bolts games — and sign with Washington on a one-year, $3.5MM deal.

Davis suffered ACL tears in November 2009, June 2010 and September 2011 — a stretch including just nine games — but returned to start in all but two Carolina contests from 2012-17. During that span, the Rivera-led Panthers rebounded their operation — with Davis and Kuechly playing essential roles — and made four playoff berths. Both Davis and Kuechly were first-team All-Pros in 2015, a 15-1 Panthers season that included 5.5 Davis sacks, four interceptions and four forced fumbles.

Through 199 regular-season games, the Georgia alum has 1,216 tackles, 29 sacks, 18 forced fumbles and 13 INTs. While Davis has only added six tackles to that total this season, he will wrap his career as a three-time Pro Bowler — from 2015-17 — who helped the Panthers to several playoff appearances in the 2010s.

Contract Details: Brees, Mariota, Apple

Let’s take a closer look at the details of a few recently-signed free agent contracts:


  • Marcus Mariota, QB (Raiders): Two years, $17.6MM $7.5MM guaranteed. $2.4MM in incentives available in 2020 (60% snaps). $1.5MM in playtime and win incentives. $10MM in similar incentives available in 2021. $2MM in playoff/Super Bowl wins each year. $12MM 2021 salary escalator (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of
  • Eli Apple, QB (Raiders): One year, $6MM. Fully guaranteed. $500K available via incentives (Twitter link via Garafolo.
  • Pierre Desir, CB (Jets): One year, ~$3.75MM. Max value of $5.5MM via incentives (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News).
  • Chad Henne, QB (Chiefs): Two years, $3.25MM. $2MM guaranteed. Max value of $7.25MM (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of
  • Nelson Agholor, WR (Raiders): One year, veteran salary benefit. $887K guaranteed. $137K signing bonus (Twitter link via Pelissero).


  • Drew Brees, QB (Saints): Four years, $100MM. $25MM guaranteed. Void years used in 2022-23. Brees receives no-trade clause and no franchise/transition tag can be used after 2021 (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Jalen Mills, DB (Eagles): One, $4MM. Up to $1MM available via incentives (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio).
  • Thomas Davis, LB (Redskins): One year, $3.5MM. $250K available via incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Shon Coleman, T (49ers): One year, $2.2MM. $1.37MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Miles Killebrew, S (Lions): One year, $2MM. $1.137MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Jayron Kearse, S (Lions): One year, $2MM. Up to $1.25MM available via incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Pharoh Cooper, WR (Panthers): One year, $1.21MM. $300K signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).

Thomas Davis, Redskins Agree To Terms

Thomas Davis once announced he would retire after the 2018 season. But the Panthers’ all-time leading tackler will reunite with his longtime coach in Washington.

The 15-year veteran linebacker revealed (Twitter link) he has agreed to a deal with the now-Ron Rivera-led Redskins. Davis was cut by the Chargers late last week. Davis will turn 37 on Sunday, but he still impressively managed to start all 16 games for Los Angeles last year. A first-round pick out of Georgia all the way back in 2005, Davis spent his first 14 seasons with the Panthers. There was a stretch where it looked like his career was derailed, when he played in only nine games across three seasons from 2009-11 after tearing an ACL three times in less than two years.

Incredibly he bounced back from the poor injury luck, and started playing better than ever later in his career. He made the Pro Bowl three straight times from 2015-17, and was a large part of the reason that Carolina made the Super Bowl during the 2015 season.

Davis understandably didn’t look particularly spry during his brief time with the Chargers, and it’s highly possible that Washington doesn’t view him as a starter and wants him more for a leadership/mentorship type of role. It’ll be very interesting to see what the terms are here when they’re eventually released. The Redskins re-signed fellow linebacker Jon Bostic yesterday.

Bolts Cut Thomas Davis, Brandon Mebane

Shortly after opting to use their franchise tag on Hunter Henry and add an $11MM-plus cap figure to their payroll, the Chargers restored some of their cap space.

The Bolts released starting defenders Thomas Davis and Brandon Mebane. The two have a combined 28 seasons’ worth of NFL experience; each played key roles for the 2019 Chargers team. Together, these releases will create $9.5MM in cap space for the Bolts.

Davis signed with Los Angeles last year and was the team’s runaway tackles leader. Eight-plus years after his most recent ACL tear, the 36-year-old linebacker started all 16 games. Davis indicated he was prepared to retire after the 2018 season, but since it began with a suspension, he preferred to keep going.

Davis instead chose a two-year Chargers deal, but being set to turn 37 next week, retirement surely will be on the table for the Panthers’ all-time tackles leader.

Mebane spent four seasons with the Bolts, beginning his Charger run in San Diego and playing in L.A. for the past three years. The former Seahawk worked as a starting nose tackle during each season.

Thomas Davis On Suspension, Chargers Decision, Retirement Plans

Thomas Davis said in January 2018 he was eyeing one more season and a retirement as a Panther. But in June of last year, he reopened the door to his career extending beyond 2018.

The four-game PED suspension played a key role in the veteran linebacker deciding to return for a 15th season. He is now attached to a two-year, $10.5MM Chargers deal.

In my mind, going into last season, that was the thought process,” Davis said, via The Athletic’s Rich Hammond, of retiring after 2018, “that I would go in and have a good season and play well. But then, after being out for that time, you start to realize how much you really love the game, and I thought if I could still go out and compete at a high level, then there was no thought in my mind at that point that I was going to shut it down.”

Although entering his age-36 season, Davis is projected to be a Chargers starter. After seven years of the Davis-Luke Kuechly partnership, the Panthers moved on. Shaq Thompson is in position to be Kuechly’s new three-down sidekick, with Thomas announcing in January that the Panthers were moving in this direction.

Davis chose the Bolts quickly in free agency, citing the talent on the team’s roster — in particular Philip Rivers — as why he opted to move across the country. The Bolts went 12-4 last season — their first double-digit win total since 2009 — and return one of the NFL’s most balanced rosters.

That’s all I’m thinking of. That’s all that matters now,” Davis said of winning a Super Bowl. “Philip is a guy that’s getting up there in age like me and he deserves a ring. I feel like, given what I’ve gone through, I deserve it as well.”

Los Angeles’ AFC franchise opted to fortify its linebacker corps via the Davis addition and re-signing Denzel Perryman this offseason. They also drafted two ‘backers, fourth-rounder Drue Tranquill (Notre Dame) and sixth-rounder Emeke Egbule (Houston).

Davis’ deal includes $5.25MM in guarantees, but his base salary spikes from $1.25MM to $4.25MM between 2019 and ’20. Hammond does not expect the Chargers to carry a 37-year-old linebacker on a $7.25MM cap number next season, but despite going into last season with retirement plans, Davis has not decided 2019 will be his final NFL slate yet.

I’m coming in with the mindset of being the best I can this year,” Davis said, “and then seeing what happens after the season. If we win the Super Bowl and they want me back, then we’ll see how it goes.”

Chargers To Sign Thomas Davis

The Chargers are set to sign linebacker Thomas Davis, according to Adam Schefter of (on Twitter). The former Panther and three-time Pro Bowler also announced the news via social media (Twitter link). 

Very happy that I’m going to be able to showcase my talents for the LA Chargers,” Davis tweeted. “Long way from home but I’m extremely excited about this opportunity!

It’s a two-year, $10.5MM deal for the veteran, Tom Pelissero of (on Twitter) adds. The pact includes $5.25MM guaranteed for 2019 and a $1MM roster bonus due next March.

The 2019 season will be Davis’ 15th year in the league. The first 14 years of his career were all with Carolina. One of the league’s best linebackers for a handful of years, Davis will turn 36 in a couple of weeks and the Panthers thought it was time to move on.

Suspended for the first four games of last season, Davis started the final 12 games and had a very solid year. He received above average marks from Pro Football Focus, and graded out as their 19th-best linebacker overall. He’ll be joining an already very talented Chargers defense, and will provide an immediate boost.

The Chargers have playmakers on the defensive line and in the secondary, but were sorely lacking at linebacker last year. They recently re-signed Denzel Perryman, who has been hurt most of the past two years, and if he can stay healthy the Chargers will have a much-improved linebacking corp next season.

Davis, a first round pick all the way back in 2004, will fill a leadership role on a defense with a lot of young players. Davis struggled with injury issues earlier on in his career, but has been remarkably durable the last handful of years, which is what the oft-injured Chargers desperately need.

Thomas Davis Says Panthers Won’t Re-Sign Him

Longtime Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis says Carolina has informed him they intend to move in a “different direction” next season, meaning the free agent-to-be won’t be playing in Carolina in 2019 (Twitter link).

Davis, 35, was a Panthers first-round pick in 2005 and just completed his 14th year with the club. Although he’s vacillated on the subject before, Davis has indicated he’d like to continue his career beyond the 2018 campaign. Whether he’ll still want to do that somewhere other than Carolina is unclear, but he should certainly have a market.

Davis only played in 12 games last year due to a four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension, but he graded as the league’s 19th-best linebacker, per Pro Football Focus. He doesn’t seem to be slowing down, as he played in 85% of the Panthers’ defensive snaps a season ago. With Davis gone, Shaq Thompson — who will be playing on his fifth-year option — will become a full-time player (he saw about 60% of Carolina’s snaps last year).

A 2017 extension that tacked on an additional year to Davis’ contract will run out in March. Davis will join a group of free agent off–ball linebackers that includes Anthony Barr, C.J. Mosley, Jordan Hicks, and Cory Littleton, among others.

Extra Points: Panthers, Cardinals, Texans

Earlier this offseason, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis made it sound like 2018 was going to be his final season in the NFL. However, the veteran acknowledged last month that he was open to continuing his playing career in 2019. Today, the 35-year-old echoed that sentiment, telling that his impending four-game suspension played a role in him changing his mind.

“I look at the way things transpired this offseason and think back to, really, my legacy and the things that I’ve been able to do as a football player,” Davis said. “I don’t want to leave on a sour note. You never want to walk away from the game knowing that you served a four-game suspension. That’s my mindset right now.”

Davis, who finished last season with 52 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 15 games, has been especially upbeat during this year’s training camp.

“When you factor in that (suspension), and the fact that I may not ever get another training camp – I embrace it every day,” Davis said. “Talk trash to Cam (Newton) at a high level daily. Just competing and having fun with my teammates – that’s what training camp is all about.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Markus Golden is still working his way back from an ACL injury that ended his 2017 campaign. The Cardinals defensive end hasn’t been able to participate in coach Steve Wilks and coordinator Al Holcomb‘s defense, but he’s still found reasons to be encouraged heading into next season. “Ever since I got injured – especially once I found out I wasn’t going to be in camp – I wanted to encourage guys,” Golden told Darren Urban of “You can tell they are competing. And that’s what I want to see.” Specifically, Golden was pointing to the trio of players who are stepping up in his absence: Vontarrius Dora, Benson Mayowa and Arthur Moats.
  • While Texans running back D’Onta Foreman remains on the physically unable to perform list, it sounds like the second-year weapon is recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon. “I think he’s progressing well,” coach Bill O’Brien told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “I think he’s doing well. He’s on the right track, and we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes, but I think he’s headed in the right direction.” Foreman’s season ended in November, at which point he had compiled 327 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 78 carries.
  • In case you missed it, the Patriots moved on from wideout Malcolm Mitchell earlier today. The former fourth-rounder had been unable to stay healthy during his stint in New England.

Panthers’ Davis Hopes To Play Beyond ’18

In January, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis indicated that 2018 would probably be his final year in the league. Now, it sounds like the veteran wants to continue his career into 2019, as Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer writes. 

It’s possible that Davis has had a change of heart after learning that he would be suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season. What would have been a 16-game regular season swan song has now been reduced to 12 games, and Davis is probably looking to leave the game on a high note. Davis has denied taking performance-enhancing substances and told fans that he is “not a cheater.”

Davis has just one year to go on his deal, so he’ll need a new deal or an extension in order to stay on board. When asked whether he has discussed an extension with new owner David Tepper or GM Marty Hurney, Davis said, “We haven’t had those conversations.”

The Panthers value Davis, but they also have a younger linebacker in Shaq Thompson that has flashed serious potential at times. If Thompson excels during Davis’ four-game ban, the Panthers could opt to move on from the 35-year-old.

Despite his age, Davis continues to play at a high level. Last year, he earned his third straight Pro Bowl berth and finished second on the team with 88 tackles. He also stands as the franchise’s all-time leading tackler.