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Panthers, Kuechly strike $62.5M deal

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The Sports Xchange

A new five-year, $62.5 million contract with the Carolina Panthers will make Luke Kuechly the highest-paid linebacker in NFL history.

NFL Network first reported the deal, which averages $12.4 million per season.

Kuechly, 24, has 473 tackles in three seasons since he was drafted ninth overall in the 2012 draft. He was the 2012 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and in 2013 was the youngest player to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

“He has a lot of natural ability,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera told The Sports Xchange during Keuchly’s second season, when then teammate Jon Beason already declared him “the best (middle linebacker) in the league.”

Kuechly’s contract trumps the deals for other top-paid inside linebackers, the most recent being Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner signed a four-year, $43 million extension on August 3.


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