4 burning questions Panthers fans are asking ahead of Week 18 at Saints

(Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson
(Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Shaq Thompson’s future with the Carolina Panthers

Restructure Shaq Thompson’s contract or just cut him outright for the $13.1M in cap space? Followed up by, who are some Day 2/3 LBs that the Carolina Panthers could target? – TLSPanthers

This is a very tough decision that the Carolina Panthers will have to make this off-season. Do they keep veteran linebacker Shaq Thompson to anchor the middle of the defense in the final year of his contract, or do they part ways to create over $13.1 million in cap space to build the roster through free agency?

I’ve been split on this discussion for the last several weeks as the season has winded down. The former Washington Huskies standout is an impactful linebacker and has been playing his best football for the last two seasons. While he hasn’t played to the level of his contract, Thompson has certainly been consistent since becoming the focal point of his position group following Luke Kuechly’s retirement.

Because 2023 is the last year of his contract, Thompson cannot get a restructured deal unless he, his agent, and the front office work on a reworked deal in a similar aspect to what the San Francisco 49ers did with Jimmy Garoppolo.

At this point, it’s either keep him or cut ties.

I do think that they can still save plenty of cap space by restructuring other contracts and releasing players with potential outs in their current deals. Should Thompson be released or kept, the Panthers should still focus on drafting a linebacker at some point in the second and third day of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Without going into too much depth, prospects such as Oregon’s Noah Sewell, Arkansas’ Drew Sanders, TCU’s Dee Winters, Ohio State’s Tommy Eichenberg, and Cincinnati’s Ivan Pace Jr. could be potential targets.