4 Carolina Panthers players who cannot afford to regress in 2021

Dean Jones
(Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports) Haason Reddick
(Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports) Haason Reddick /
4 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

The performances of Shaq Thompson in 2020 seem to have been put to one side after the player restructured his deal to give the Carolina Panthers some much-needed cap relief in the current climate. This ensures the outside linebacker remains part of their plans next season and possibly beyond, but any dip in performance may force the organization to finally look in a different direction.

Thompson went into the previous campaign with big ambitions to become the team’s new leader at the second level following the shock retirement of Luke Kuechly. This did not pan out as the player expected and it’s now clear he needs a strong presence on the interior to succeed.

Carolina recognized this for themselves and upgraded their middle linebacker position with the signing of Denzel Perryman. This should help Thompson more than most, but if the same cracks begin to show it won’t take long for the natives to get restless.

Fans grew increasingly frustrated with Thompson last season despite the player going over 100 tackles for the second straight year. His lack of ability in coverage is something that causes concern and the Washington product doesn’t generate sufficient pressure off the edge to be considered a real threat to opposing protection schemes.

As stated previously, the Panthers should have a lot more to come from their front seven in 2021 following the arrivals of Perryman, Haason Reddick, and DaQuan Jones among others. If Thompson regresses with this sort of talent around him, then his future in Carolina looks bleak.