Davis won't return to Panthers, intends to play in '19

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Thomas Davis will not be a member of the Carolina Panthers in 2019, per Thomas Davis.

The longtime Panthers linebacker said in a video posted on Twitter on Wednesday night that Carolina is "going to go in a different direction with the linebacking position."

"It was extremely tough for me to deal with,' Davis said on the 140-second-long video. "That's why you guys are just hearing from me right now because I wanted to be back. 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 is an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins on March 13. His statement signals that Carolina does not intend to re-sign the 35-year-old linebacker.

A 14-year veteran in the league, Davis has never played a single down for another franchise. Davis is an All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler and was the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year. He is the franchise's all-time leader in tackles. Davis and Luke Kuechly have for the last seven years made up arguably the most feared linebacker duo in the league and led Carolina to a Super Bowl appearance in 2015.

In 2018, Davis missed the first four games due to a PED suspension, but played and started the remaining 12 games, recording 79 tackles and three for loss. It was his first season without a sack since 2012. Davis averaged 56 snaps per game, behind Kuechly but ahead of fourth-year linebacker Shaq Thompson. The Panthers picked up Thompson's $9.2 million fifth-year option last year, another sign that Davis was on the way out.

Despite Carolina giving Davis the boot, the linebacker does not intend to quit football just yet.

"I'm not retiring," Davis declared. "I feel like I have way too much football left in me to walk away from the game right now. So I want to keep playing. I'm going to keep playing. Hopefully someone's going to give me that opportunity. Panther Nation, just know that in no way did I ever imagine putting on another uniform. Still to this day don't want to it, but I want to play football. So if that's the way that I'm going to be able to continue my career, then that's something I have have to do and I hope you guys understand. It's not a decision that I wanted to make, but it's a decision that I had to make.

"I'm looking forward to this season and getting back out and showing and proving that Thomas Davis still can do it, that I still got a lot left."

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