The Panthers will have a mainstay of their defense beyond his scheduled walk year. Carolina has agreed to terms on a re-worked two-year deal with linebacker Shaq Thompson, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The team has announced the move.
The 28-year-old was already on the books for 2023, but at a cap hit of $24.4MM. This deal will add one new year to his existing contract, and in all likelihood lower that cap figure for the coming season. That will allow Thompson to continue his career in Charlotte, all eight years of which have been spent with the Panthers.
The former first-rounder has been a fixture throughout his Carolina tenure, starting 106 of his 117 career games to date. Thompson’s time has been marked by consistent production, as he has racked up at least 104 tackles in each of the past four seasons. Over that span, he has logged a snap share no lower than 93%, making him a vital, experienced part of the team’s defense.
Thompson popped up in trade rumors after head coach Matt Rhule was fired in the middle of the 2022 season. That decision led to speculation of a firesale being possible, and the Panthers were indeed willing to ship off Christian McCaffrey; they unsurprisingly listened to offers on Thompson, but elected to keep him through what ended up being a late-season run towards a division title. The Washington alum set a new career-high in total stops with 135 this season.
The arrival of Ejiro Evero as defensive coordinator has brought about a change in scheme to a 3-4 for Carolina. That made Damien Wilson expendable, as he was released yesterday, but Thompson will now remain in place atop the team’s linebacker depth chart. His experience will no doubt be leaned upon as the Panthers transition into a new era on defense while looking to maintain the unit’s success from 2022.
From a personal standpoint, this deal will also allow Thompson to continue his ascent up the franchise leaderboard in several categories. He currently ranks fourth in team history in tackles, trailing only Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly and Mike Minter. Another strong season could see Thompson move into third place on that list, and help earn himself an extended stay in Charlotte beyond 2024.