Thomas Davis: 2018 will be my last season

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Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis jokes at times that he's a "lifer" in Charlotte, and based on a report from NFL Media on Friday, he will end up as one.

Davis, 34, was a first-round draft pick by Carolina in 2005 and has been a staple of the Panthers' defense since.

"This was a tough year for me", Davis said.

Davis, who will turn 35 in March, will forever be known as the first National Football League player to come back from three anterior cruciate ligament tears in the same knee and as the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year. "They only wanted to sign me to a one-year extension. I've never been a guy to quit anything, and I'm not going to start doing that now".

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He said Monday, after the Panthers lost an NFC wild-card game against the New Orleans Saints, that he planned to honor the final year of his contract but likely wouldn't be an every-down player as he has been. He overcame a trio of torn ACLs in his right knee to play 93 games over the last six seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2015 and 2016.

The Panthers tweeted a photo of Davis shortly after the report broke, with the caption "respect".

Davis had said this week that he expects his role to be reduced next season, and he anticipated that it would be reduced further in 2019.

"So we'll see. We'll see how it goes".