4 burning questions facing the Carolina Panthers LBs in 2021

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Will Shaq Thompson be with the Carolina Panthers in 2022?

There were some doubts regarding the future of Shaq Thompson heading into the offseason. The outside linebacker was due for a huge pay rise in accordance with the contract extension he signed during the Marty Hurney era, but his inconsistent production, on the whole, caused some to speculate whether the Washington product would become a salary-cap casualty.

As it turned out, Thompson and the Carolina Panthers came to an agreement on a contract restructure that kicked the can down the road, so to speak.

Thompson’s whopping pay increase is now set to come in 2022, with his cap number soaring from $8.05 million in 2021 to $18.26 million the following year.

This is an unbelievable amount of money. If Thompson wants to earn it, he’ll have to perform close to or above a Pro Bowl level for the Panthers this season.

Whether he can do that is highly debatable. Thompson missed Luke Kuechly’s presence more than anybody during the previous campaign, but there should be a huge upgrade in production around him this time around.

If the Panthers decide to cut their losses with Thompson following the season, it would cost Carolina $12.47 million in dead cap money. This represents a pre-June 1 saving of $5.79 million.

Doing this post-June 1 looks more enticing. A parting of the ways between Thompson and Carolina at this stage would save the team $12.02 million and a dead-cap total of $6.23 million.