4 Panthers players with the most to lose after the bye week

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

  • Pay increase in 2021

Shaq Thompson‘s productivity has come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks. This is down in no small part to the Carolina Panthers finally benching Tahir Whitehead in favor of Jermaine Carter, which has completely reinvigorated a linebacker unit that relied almost solely on stud rookie Jeremy Chinn over the first half of the season.

The former first-round pick out of Washington will need to keep this up or even improve in the remaining four games to avoid speculation regarding his release. Thompson should be a key piece on defense if he can do this. But the significant pay increase the player is due in 2021 brings its own set of questions.

Thompson is set to see his base salary skyrocket from $4.4 million to $10.18 million next season. He is owed around $33.74 million over the next three years and if the Panthers want to cut their losses and avoid a big cap hit, then it has to be this offseason.

Cutting ties with Thompson after the 2020 campaign would represent a saving of $17.94 million, which is obviously tempting considering how inconsistent he was without Luke Kuechly alongside him over the early part of the season.

What comes next will ultimately come down to Thompson. He has to prove he is deserving of such a pay rise over the next month and there is every chance he can achieve this with Carter and Chinn alongside him at the second level.