4 Panthers players already fighting for their futures this season

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Curtis Samuel
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Curtis Samuel /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

Shaq Thompson has turned things around over the last two weeks following a disappointing start. The outside linebacker has got some increased responsibility on his shoulders this season following the retirement of legendary linebacker Luke Kuechly and it is clear the player is taking time to adjust.

Thompson is eager to make the most out of this opportunity. He was more than a little vocal in his desire to become a defensive lynchpin for the Carolina Panthers going forward. But his level of production will need to continue trending upward to justify the organization moving forward with his lucrative contract next year.

The former first-round pick’s base salary is set to skyrocket from $4 million to $10.18 million in 2021. Carolina would save around $17.94 million over the next three years if they cut Thompson’s time with the franchise short, which might be a more realistic proposition considering the cap could come down to as little as $175 million next season.

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This would mean sacrifices need to be made by teams across the league. The Panthers don’t have many high-earners left after getting rid of some established veterans this offseason, but Thompson will still need to show more in order to put this conversation to bed once and for all.