Shaq Thompson’s locker room outburst had the desired effect

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /

Shaq Thompson’s importance to the Carolina Panthers

Things might not have gone according to plan for Shaq Thompson this season overall. But his importance on and off the field cannot be understated.

The Carolina Panthers lost plenty of locker room leaders this offseason as the organization went younger in pursuit of becoming a postseason contender sooner rather than later. This was sure to come with its fair share of complications initially – which has proved to be the case – but the defense was relying heavily on Thompson to deliver the goods and it’s something he struggled with for long periods.

However, the last two games have changed everything.

Thompson has been one of the team’s top performers over the last fortnight, which has coincided with middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead seeing less time in the lineup. The free-agent signing has been one of Carolina’s worst calls of the offseason period and not having a reliable presence alongside him has impacted the former Washington standout more than was originally anticipated.

That being said, Thompson seems to be doing better, which is good news for a defense that was lights out in Week 11. The player is due for a substantial pay rise in 2021 from $4 million to $10 million in base salary, so he’ll want this upturn in production to continue during the remainder of the campaign to justify this financial outlay.