4 grossly underpaid Carolina Panthers players in 2024

The Carolina Panthers are getting bang for their buck with these players.
Shaq Thompson
Shaq Thompson / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Shaq Thompson - Carolina Panthers LB

  • 2024 salary-cap hit: $3.19 million

Shaq Thompson has always been a team-first guy. He's one of two remaining players from the Carolina Panthers' memorable run to the Super Bowl in 2015. His influence on and off the field isn't in question, but this is a big season upcoming for the veteran linebacker after some rough luck during the 2023 campaign.

Thompson started impressively before a serious leg injury put him on season-ending injured reserve after just two games. All signs point to the former first-round selection being 100 percent for Carolina's road clash with the New Orleans Saints in Week 1. He also decided to help out the franchise by taking a pay cut for the second consecutive offseason.

Whether this was an ultimatum made by the new regime is anyone's guess. Thompson seems happy enough with the money he's earned throughout a productive career, which stands at $65.89 million according to Spotrac. If this was his contribution to helping the Panthers emerge from rock bottom, it's a small price to pay.

With Frankie Luvu spurning the opportunity to stay in Carolina for a move to the Washington Commanders, some significant responsibilities await Thompson once again in 2024. He'll be tasked with being the primary defensive communicator and forming a productive middle linebacker partnership with free-agent signing Josey Jewell. Much will depend on health, but all signs point to the California native making his presence felt.

Thompson is counting $3.19 million against the salary cap in 2024. Considering his status and potential influence, this has grossly underpaid written all over it. But for the second-level presence to earn a stay beyond the current campaign, he needs to prove himself all over again.

After spending his entire career with the Panthers so far, Thompson will be eager to leave no doubt that there is plenty left in the tank. At the same time, those in power have no sentimental attachment attached to their decision-making process. Therefore, any extensions need to be earned.