4 Panthers players on the hot seat at the midseason point
By Dean Jones
Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB
There were lofty expectations for Shaq Thompson coming into the 2020 season. The linebacker made all the right noises regarding his desire to become the defensive leader of the Carolina Panthers following Luke Kuechly’s shock retirement. But his play hasn’t reflected his big talk through Week 8.
Thompson’s glaring lack of ability in coverage has been a key point of his disappointing form. Kuechly isn’t there to mask his deficiencies any more, with Tahir Whitehead another who has been a major disappointment at the second level.
The fact that rookie Jeremy Chinn, who has never played outside linebacker before, has come in and outshone the two veterans is a damning indictment of Thompson’s level of production. There have been some nice moments from the former first-round pick, but this has not been consistent enough by any stretch of the imagination.
There are high stakes for Thompson this season. He is set for a big pay increase in 2021 that will see his base salary propel from $4 million to $10.8 million, which is in question heading into the second half of the campaign.
The Panthers would save around $17.94 million if they decided not to bring Thompson back. This is looking like another contract gone wrong for a franchise that is among the NFL’s leaders when it comes to dead cap expenditure.
Thompson has recorded 66 combined tackles, 34 solo tackles, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and three passes defended through eight games. His completion percentage allowed currently stands at 75.6 and his dismal 44.9 grade from Pro Football Focus is further proof of just how poorly he’s performed so far when Carolina has needed him the most.