We’re down to 49 days remaining until the Panthers kick off the 2020 regular season, so that means today’s piece will focus on No. 49 on the roster — linebacker Frankie Luvu.
Originally, the Panthers signed the now 25-year-old Luvu (6’3, 235) as a free agent after the 2021 season. This past February, Luvu signed a 2-year, $9 million contract extension before he hit free agency once again. He was originally picked up by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent back in 2018. He spent a few seasons with the Jets until the Panthers picked him up.
Below is a brief summary of his pro career, per the Panthers team website:
In 2021, Luvu played in 16 games with four starts as he had 34 defensive tackles and nine special teams tackles to go with eight tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a blocked punt.
Played in 13 games with career-high three starts in 2020 with the New York Jets. Recorded 21 tackles, including three for loss, with two sacks and one forced fumble. Added five special teams tackles.
Played in 13 games in 2019 with seven special teams tackles. Had five tackles on defense with one tackle for loss.
Saw action in 14 games in rookie season in 2018 with the Jets. Posted career-best 22 tackles with five tackles for loss. His 3.0 sacks led all undrafted rookies in 2018.
Luvu was a pleasant surprise in limited defensive snaps last season. His big play ability (1.5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble, 1 blocked punt) earned him more and more field time as the season went on. He showed a propensity to get after the quarterback, which may have been part of why the Panthers were unwilling to pay Haason Reddick as much as the Philadelphia Eagles were. This year, he’ll likely play an increased role in the defensive rotation, including snaps at linebacker and edge rusher. He’ll also likely keep his spot on special teams because he’s too good on that unit to take him off.
What do you think Panthers fans? Will Luvu challenge for the team lead in sacks this year? Will he continue to make game-breaking plays on defense and special teams? Sound off in the comments!