Shaq Thompson wants to stay with Carolina Panthers long term
Linebacker Shaq Thompson has been waiting patiently since being drafted in 2015 for his chance to take the reigns as a full-time starter for the Carolina Panthers. Since being selected 25th overall, Thompson has played moderate snaps behind stalwart veteran Thomas Davis. After 14 incredible years, the Panthers decided to let Davis walk in free agency this offseason, opting for the younger, faster Thompson to finally slip into a starting role.
The Panthers exercised the former Washington Huskies’ fifth-year option in 2019, a year which will determine whether Thompson is worth a second contract. Head coach Ron Rivera has cited a schematic change to a 3-4 defense with an emphasis on speed as the reason the Panthers chose to move forward with Thompson over retaining the services of Davis.
Shaq spoke with Brendan Marks of the Charlotte Observer, making it clear that he’d like to remain in Charlotte long-term.
“This is a place I’ve been for five years,” said Thompson. “I don’t want to know any other place.”
The linebacker had a career-high in tackles in 2018 with 79. With only three forced turnovers and 6.5 sacks in his career, Thompson will need to be more productive than ever if he wants to cash in during his contract year. The Panthers’ new 3-4 looks should emphasize Shaq’s premier athleticism and coverage skills.
In college at the University of Washington, Thompson played running back and safety, exhibiting raw play-making ability. It feels as if to this point he hasn’t been given full range to play ball the way he prefers. If he is able to quickly pick up the new scheme alongside Luke Kuechly, Thompson will have the best opportunity he’s had in his career to prove his worth to the franchise who drafted him.
Other players the Carolina Panthers must consider for contract extensions are defensive end Mario Addison, offensive tackle Daryl Williams, and cornerback James Bradberry. Bradberry seems to be at the top of the Panthers priority list when considering extension talk. A proven starter and someone the Panthers would like to lock down for years to come. Addison (31) will not have the luxury of showing any type of regression considering his age. Daryl Williams is currently on a prove-it deal and will most likely test the waters in free agency heading into 2020. This leaves Shaq Thompson as the Panthers second highest priority internally. If Bradberry is extended before the season begins, Thompson may be in line right behind him.