5 Panthers players that will be grossly overpaid in 2021 if not cut

(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Teddy Bridgewater
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Teddy Bridgewater /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

  • Cap hit – $14.18 million

Shaq Thompson may have brought his game on during the second half of the season. But when one looks at his overall contribution in 2020, he simply did not live up to the expectations the outside linebacker put on himself heading into the campaign.

The former first-round pick made no secret of his desire to pick up the slack at the second level after Luke Kuechly dropped his retirement bombshell. Thompson set about becoming a defensive leader and was making all the right noises during training camp, even if this didn’t match what we saw on the field.

Not having Kuechly calling out plays and putting Thompson in the right position on almost every down took a considerable amount of adjustment. To make matters worse, free-agent signing Tahir Whitehead was inept, to put it mildly, and things only began trending on an upward curve when he was removed from the starting rotation in favor of Jermaine Carter.

Thompson did finish the season with 114 tackles.

However, this does not detract from the big decision awaiting the Carolina Panthers regarding Thompson in the coming weeks.

His salary is set to skyrocket after signing a new deal. Thompson is going to count $14.18 million against the cap in 2021 and if there was a time to release him, it is this spring.

Things get a little trickier after that from a financial standpoint regarding Thompson. Carolina needs to be ultra-careful with this situation and not leave themselves short-handed, but his production in 2020 doesn’t warrant an eight-figure base salary.