5 Carolina Panthers players who cannot afford to regress in 2022

(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 /

OLB. Carolina Panthers. SHAQ THOMPSON. 2. player. 87.

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

It was a solid year overall for Shaq Thompson in 2021. The outside linebacker continued his role as leader on defense and also came up with some impressive performances to further enhance his overall influence.

There was some doubt surrounding his future this offseason. But the Carolina Panthers are not in a position to cut ties with their most experienced linebacker considering how thin they are within the group.

Thompson had his contract restructured rather than the Panthers doing something more drastic. He will once again be counted upon heavily next season and perhaps more than ever with Haason Reddick departing for the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency.

The former first-round pick racked up 104 tackles, two sacks, nine tackles for loss, five passes defended, and two interceptions during the previous campaign. Thompson keeping up or even improving this level of production would do the Panthers’ chances of real progression no harm at all.

There are some high stakes involved for Thompson, who is set to count a whopping $24.46 million against the cap on the final year of his deal in 2023. Carolina would save around $13 million by releasing him, so he must leave no doubt regarding his importance to justify such a substantial sum.