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Luke Kuechly signs $62M extension with Panthers

Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly is the latest defensive player to cash in on a busy Thursday.

With the NFL opener serving as yet another soft deadline for pressing contract extensions to get done, Kuechly signed a five-year contract extension, the team announced. The deal is worth $62 million, NFL Media's Rand Getlin reported, per a source with knowledge of the contract's details.

"It's awesome. To get to this point now is really cool," Kuechly said during a news conference Thursday. "I just need to keep working as hard as I can."

The deal is well-deserved for quite possibly the league's best all-around inside linebacker. Since his draft year in 2012, Kuechly has been elected to two Pro Bowls, two first-team All Pro bids and won the AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013.

"It's never been about me. I want to win," Kuechly said. "I'm one guy on an 11-man defense that needs to do my job. I don't like talking about myself."

With so much of Carolina's team in flux right now, having cornerstones like Kuechly and Cam Newton locked down for the foreseeable future will help general manager Dave Gettleman in the building process.

Though his team cannot shop at Tiffany's yet, as he routinely says in jest, they have money in place to lock down home grown talent.

The deal puts Kuechly in an elite class of high-paid players at a position that doesn't always get recognized in terms of financial security. Seahawks inside linebacker Bobby Wagnerinked a four-year, $43.977 extension at the beginning of August with $22 million in guarantees.

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