Carolina Panthers: 5 potential casualties if salary cap reduced in 2021

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /
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Shaq Thompson, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /

Pick Analysis. OLB. 87. SHAQTHOMPSON. 4. player. Scouting Report. CAROLINA PANTHERS

Carolina Panthers Player No. 4: Shaq Thompson (OLB)

The Carolina Panthers are counting on Shaq Thompson to step up and become a leader on defense in 2020. They parted ways with a host of veteran players in their bid to go younger this offseason. And they were dealt a hammer blow when Luke Kuechly announced his shock retirement following a glittering eight-year career.

There is nothing to suggest that Thompson is not more than ready for this sort of challenge. The former first-round pick has played well on a defense that struggled overall in 2019. But much more will be needed next time around.

If Thompson fails to meet these lofty targets, then it could see the player fall into the cap casualty category next spring. The Washington product will see his base salary surge from $4 million to $10.18 million in 2021. And cutting him would save $17.94 million over the final three years of his deal.

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It would be a huge shock if Thompson fell victim to this. He is a tremendously gifted athlete who has produced the goods more often than not during his time with the Panthers. And parting ways with such an important player would probably send out the wrong message about which direction the team is going in.

This situation will become more realistic if Thompson doesn’t perform to the sort of level he is capable of next season. Stranger things have happened in the NFL. And it will be up to the linebacker to leave no doubt regarding his importance to the organization going forward.