5 Panthers players who could be surprise cuts this offseason

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

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

  • Cap saving – $17.94 million over three years

Shaq Thompson‘s level of production in recent weeks has been much improved. This is probably down in no small part to the Carolina Panthers finally sitting free-agent Tahir Whitehead after a torrid time that left everybody associated with the organization missing Luke Kuechly that little bit more.

The former first-round pick is clearly an important member of a young defense. But there are some significant ramifications financially when it comes to a difficult upcoming decision regarding Thompson.

His salary is set for a huge increase in 2021. Thompson is set to make $10.18 million – a rise from $4.4 million in 2020 – and the final two years of his deal after next year will come with $23.56 million in base salary alone.

Cutting ties with Thompson would save the Panthers a shade over $17.94 million over the next three years, which equates to a dead cap figure of $9.6 million. This might be too tempting to refuse at this juncture and the player would only have himself to blame after failing to make the necessary impact during the first half of the season.

Of all the decisions set to be made by Carolina’s front office in the coming months, this is one of the most important. The Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee is held in the highest regard by head coach Matt Rhule and teammates alike, so he might just get a reprieve.