Panthers LB Shaq Thompson Out For Season

SEPTEMBER 19: Thompson has already undergone surgery to repair the fibula fracture, per Reich (via Rapoport). This step will end the nine-year vet’s season.

SEPTEMBER 18: A cart transported Shaq Thompson to the locker room during the Panthers’ narrow loss to the Saints tonight. It does not look like the veteran linebacker will be in uniform again soon.

Frank Reich confirmed Thompson suffered a “significant” ankle injury against the Saints and will miss extensive time, Cameron Wolfe of tweets. It should be expected an IR stint will take place, and’s Ian Rapoport reports this injury is likely to sideline Thompson for the season’s remainder.

It is not yet a lock Thompson is done for the year, with’s Tom Pelissero reporting the veteran defender sustained a fibula fracture that will require more tests to determine if he has a chance of coming back this season. Thompson, 29, is the Panthers’ longest-tenured defender and the only starter remaining from the team’s Super Bowl 50 appearance. He has been with the Panthers since 2015, when the team selected him in the first round.

Thompson has made 107 starts for the Panthers — third-most by a linebacker in team history, behind only Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. This trio was in place from 2015-18, but Davis finished his career elsewhere and Kuechly retired after the 2019 season. While the Panthers have made a number of changes on defense as they transitioned from Ron Rivera to Matt Rhule to Reich as HC, Thompson has persisted.

This offseason, the Panthers effectively gave Thompson a pay cut. Thompson had signed a four-year, $54.43MM extension in December 2019. Two years remained on that deal. Rather than head into what became a modest market for off-ball linebackers not named Tremaine Edmunds this offseason, Thompson opted to stay on a revised deal. The Panthers gave Thompson additional guarantees in exchange for the cut; he is now tied to a two-year $12.6MM agreement. Thompson received $8.5MM guaranteed on this adjusted accord, which still runs through 2024.

Carolina has moved on from a few of its linebackers in recent years, trading Denzel Perryman and then moving on from other Rhule-era pickups (Jermaine Carter, Cory Littleton, Damien Wilson). Hybrid player Frankie Luvu operates as a key off-ball presence for Carolina, which used offseason pickup Kamu Grugier-Hill in place of Thompson tonight. That arrangement may be likely to continue for the foreseeable future, barring a surprise diagnosis or the Panthers making a move at linebacker.

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