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Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers strike extension

The Carolina Panthers locked down Greg Olsen a year before he was set to become a free agent.

The team announced a three-year contract extension for the tight end Thursday that will keep him in Charlotte through the 2018 season. The extension is worth $22.5 million, which includes a $12 million signing bonus, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports, per agent Drew Rosenhaus.

"It's really a dream come true," Olsen said in a team statement. "Since we've come to Charlotte, we very quickly realized that this is home. This community quickly embraced our family, so we put down roots here. We love it here. This is home for us.

"Now to have this contract that guarantees that I'll play the rest of my career in Charlotte is a tremendous blessing. We're just so thankful for the team believing in me and wanting me to still be a part of this. As a team, we have a lot of special times ahead of us."

Olsen, 29, was traded to Carolina for a third-round pick in 2011 after playing his first four seasons with the Chicago Bears.

Growing with quarterback Cam Newton -- a rookie in 2011 -- Olsen had his most productive season in 2014, topping the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time in his career. His 84 receptions and 1,008 receiving yards were both career highs and he made his first Pro Bowl team.

With the Panthers' dearth of talent at receiver, Olsen became Newton's security blanket and one of the most sure-handed players in the NFL -- dropping just three passes on 121 targets in 2014, per Pro Football Focus.

Now that he's ensured the Panthers have their pass-catching tight end inked for the future, general manager Dave Gettleman can continue to focus on adding on wide receiver targets and offensive line help to beef up Newton's pass production.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast reacts to the LeSean McCoy-Kiko Alonso trade and what it means for the Eagles and Bills. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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