4 critical observations from Carolina Panthers 2024 minicamp Day 2

The intensity is building.
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Shaq Thompson opens up on Carolina Panthers future

Shaq Thompson has a lot at stake next season. The Carolina Panthers' second-longest serving player is heading into a contract year and is coming off a long-term injury that ended his campaign after just two games in 2023. He's getting another shot under the new regime, but the linebacker's future beyond that is murky.

The former first-round pick is an integral piece on and off the field. Thompson will be tasked with manning the defensive second-level interior alongside Josey Jewell. He's also someone others within the locker room look to for advice and motivation when things aren't going according to plan.

Thompson is intelligent enough to realize his situation. He declared his desire to stay in Carolina for his entire career when speaking to the media. At the same time, he'll be auditioning for other teams if Dan Morgan goes in a different direction based on comments via USA Today Sports.

"I love it here. I been here for nine, going on to 10 years. I mean, this is all I know. I would love to retire here, but that’s in my fate. And when I say that—I control what I control, I control myself on that field. If I play well, I stay here. If not, I’m out. I understand and know the business. This is my last year, so I’m playing for the Panthers and I’m playing for 31 other teams. But my main focus is, shoot, we gotta win. We gotta get more than two games. We gotta make the playoffs."

Shaq Thompson via USA Today Sports

The NFL is a cutthroat business. Morgan and Brandt Tilis have removed any sentiment from contract decisions in pursuit of a brighter future. Thompson has a good opportunity to get an extension, but nothing less than outstanding production will do before this scenario becomes concrete.

Thompson is a popular figure - one of two holdovers from Carolina's memorable run to the Super Bowl in 2015. However, that won't be enough to get the financial security he's looking for beyond the upcoming season.