4 ways the Carolina Panthers can create more salary-cap space

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Restructure Shaq Thompson

Shaq Thompson has a big pay rise coming his way in 2021 and beyond. The outside linebacker’s new deal with the Carolina Panthers kicks in and will see his base salary skyrocket go from $4 million to $10.18 million next season, which isn’t quite in keeping with his level of production on the field.

This puts the Panthers in quite a predicament.

And it’s not yet clear what Thompson’s future in Carolina is as yet.

The former first-round pick is a candidate for a possible trade either on his own or to bring someone like Deshaun Watson to Carolina. Releasing the player would come with a saving of $4.58 million. But there is also the possibility that some of his base salary can be converted into a signing bonus if all other avenues fail.

Whether Thompson will be accommodating to such a request in this situation is up for debate. However, if he wants any sort of future in Carolina then some middle ground needs to be found.

Thompson was the one player who missed Luke Kuechly the most after the perennial All-Pro announced his shock retirement following the 2019 season. He looked like a lost sheep at times and although things got a little better when Jermaine Carter was placed alongside him, the Washington product did not raise his game to a level that warrants an eight-figure salary.