The Carolina Panthers are in a time of change — from their owner to their coaching staff — and those changes will eventually involve linebacker Thomas Davis. On Friday, Davis revealed in an interview with NFL Media’s Brooke Cersosimo that he will “definitely” retire after the 2018 season.

“For me, I really can’t see me playing past the 2018 season,” he said. “This will definitely be my last year coming up. One of the reasons is I want to continue my contractual obligations. I signed on for a one-year extension, and I want to complete that. I’ve never been a guy to quit anything and I’m not going to start doing that now.”

He cited his kids as a reason why he’s planning on stepping away.

“As a father, I want to be able to spend as much time with them as I possibly can — and being an NFL player, that’s not always the case,” he said.

Davis, a former first-round pick out of Georgia, is a Panthers legend. He has spent his entire career, which began in 2005, with the organization, totaling 750 solo tackles, 28 sacks and 13 interceptions. He’s the team’s all-time leading tackler. He has been to two Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro in 2015. That same season, Thomas helped lead the Panthers to the Super Bowl, where he played through a gruesome arm injury.

Davis, 34, signed an extension in August and that appears to be his final one, even though he had another solid season in 2017. Among 4-3 outside linebackers, Thomas finished as the seventh-most productive pass rusher and the 10th-most efficient tackler, according to Pro Football Focus. Together, he and Luke Kuechly helped form one of the better linebacker corps in football on a defense that finished the season seventh in DVOA

But he also found himself involved in a controversy when he hit Packers receiver Davante Adams with a vicious block that concussed Adams and resulted in a two-game suspension that was later trimmed to one game. As our Will Brinson later chronicled, Davis has a bit of a history with borderline hits, but Davis defended himself, calling it “unfair” to say he’s a dirty player.

“It’s very unfair,” Davis said of the criticism, via ESPN.com’s David Newton. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff that’s being said. Obviously, people are going to form their own opinions based on what they saw. At the end of the day, I know for 13 years I’ve played the game the right way. I can rest easy on it.”

Despite all of his individual success, Davis has yet to win a Super Bowl, which he mentioned in his interview with Cersosimo.

“Super Bowl ring. That’s it,” he said. “That’s the reason why you play this game. It’s not about the money. It’s not about being famous. It’s about competing with your teammates and going out and winning a ring. That’s eluded me for 13 years now.”

The Panthers figure to at least be in the Super Bowl conversation in 2018 after their 11-5 season ended with a last-second loss in the wild-card round. We’ll see if they can give him a Ray Lewis-esque departure like the Ravens did in 2012.


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