Former middle linebacker Luke Kuechly joins Carolina Panthers’ front office as pro scout

Luke Kuechly will return to help the Carolina Panthers try to win football games this season … just not from his customary middle linebacker position.

Kuechly, 29, who retired in January after eight star-studded seasons, is moving up to the team's front office to serve as a pro scout.

"During the season, it'll be player evaluation and then advance scouting stuff," the seven-time Pro Bowler told the team's website Thursday, when his new role was officially announced.

"So if we play a team next week, we've got to get everything set up and ready to go, so when the coaches come in on Monday, they're not starting from square one."

Kuechly, who was the NFL defensive rookie of the year in 2012 and the league's defensive MVP the following season, had a reputation as one of the most cerebral, detail-oriented players to ever man his position. Peyton Manning described the challenge of matching wits and trying to counter Kuechly's audibles when the Denver Broncos beat the Panthers in Super Bowl 50. 

Now Kuechly will attempt to convey such pearls of wisdom to his former teammates while assessing the talents of upcoming opponents.

"I think it'll be different in the sense that we're not necessarily looking for scheme as we are players," Kuechly continued. "Are the players good? What's their skill set? What are they good at? What are they not good at?"

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The five-time all-pro had other post-playing opportunities, including broadcasting and coaching, but felt this choice was the best fit for him at this time.

"The biggest thing is I still wanted to be involved with the team, around the game, and I wanted to be in the building because I still have a lot of people in the building that I'm friends with and I enjoy being around, and I wasn't ready to quite give that up," Kuechly said.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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