Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis is entering his 10th season in the NFL, all with the Panthers.

He has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee three times, and rehabbed three times. Each time, the Panthers stuck with him.

After a record season in 2013, the Panthers picked up two option years on Davis’ contract and gave him a $5 million bonus.

Davis doesn’t take the show of loyalty lightly. Without the option, he said he would have retired.

“If I’m going to play football and represent an organization, it’s going to be with the team that stuck beside me and never gave up on me,” Davis, 31, said, staring straight into an Observer reporter’s eyes. “My mindset right now is, I’m going to play for the Carolina Panthers or I’m done playing football.”

February’s restructuring was the third time in four years the Panthers had renegotiated Davis’ deal because of injury and/or the team’s salary cap position.

Drafted 14th overall by the Panthers in 2005, Davis first tore his right ACL midway through the 2009 season. The second time was less than a year later, during non-contact drills in offseason workouts. He tore it for a third time in the second game of the 2011 season.

Davis said he didn’t consider retiring after the third tear, and after consulting with coach Ron Rivera and team owner Jerry Richardson, they decided a spot on the 2012 Panthers team would be there for Davis if he could rehabilitate. He is believed to be the first player in NFL history to return from three ACL tears to the same knee.