Longtime NFL linebacker Thomas Davis has been granted his release by the Washington Football Team in order to sign a one-day contract with the Carolina Panthers that will allow him to retire as a member of the franchise with which he spent 13 years.
Davis announced his intent to retire in late December after 16 years in the league. All but two of those were played in Carolina, where Davis earned three Pro Bowl nods, one first-team All-Pro selection and the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
In announcing his decision to retire a Panther via Instagram on Wednesday, Davis thanked Washington for allowing him to go out on his terms.
"I will officially be returning to the place that my heart has been all along," Davis wrote. "By signing a one day contract, I will retire from the NFL as a Carolina Panther. Panthers thank you from the bottom of my heart for this opportunity."
Carolina drafted Davis No. 14 overall out of Georgia in 2005 and played him in all 16 games his rookie season. Of the 13 years he spent with the franchise, he appeared in fewer than 12 games just twice, excluding a 2010 season he missed due to a knee injury.
Yet the Panthers continued to get more and more out of Davis the longer he played.
The linebacker didn't make his first Pro Bowl until a decade after he entered the league with a 2015 season featuring four interceptions, seven pass deflections, four forced fumbles, 5.5 sacks and 105 total tackles.
He followed that up with two more Pro Bowl seasons before moving on to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2019.
The 2020 season reunited Davis with his longtime Carolina coach Ron Rivera as both ended up in Washington.
With his time in the league coming to a close, it's only right that Davis heads back to Carolina.