Shaq Thompson

Shaq Thompson Wants To Stay With Panthers

Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson is scheduled to reach free agency after the 2019 season. But, if he has his way, he’ll stay in Carolina for years to come. 

Yeah, this is a place I’ve been for five years,” Thompson said (via Brendan Marks of The Observer). “I don’t want to know any other place.”

Thompson, 25, set new statistical career-highs this year with 3.5 sacks and 79 total tackles. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury ended his season in December, preventing him from turning in the first full 16-game slate of his career.

So far, Thompson has appeared in 14 games in each of his four NFL seasons, with 2018 marking his best showing yet. At the time of his injury, he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 28 ranked linebacker in the NFL.

It’s not clear if an extension is on the horizon for Thompson, though coach Ron Rivera has expressed a desire to keep him in the fold.

Those are young guys that you do most certainly want to have around because they are going to impact your team for years to come,” Rivera said of Thompson and cornerback James Bradberry. “They’re both, I think, at the point where they’re ready to take the next step, which is very important in our development as a football team.”

This year, with Thomas Davis out of the picture, Thompson has an opportunity to cement his value.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Place Shaq Thompson On IR

Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson has been placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Thompson, like teammate Cam Newton, will not be on the field for the team’s final games against the Falcons and Saints. 

[RELATED: Panthers To Sit Cam Newton]

Thompson, 24, set new statistical career-highs this year with 3.5 sacks and 79 total tackles. Presently, he ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 28 ranked linebacker in the NFL.

The Panthers exercised Thompson’s 2019 option in the spring, meaning that he is under club control next year at a cost of $9.232MM. Shoulder issues have plagued him all season, so the Panthers do not want to risk his health in two games that, for all intents and purposes, are meaningless. As the New York Times playoff tree shows, Carolina would need to win out and gain the cooperation of at least five other outcomes in order to even have a chance at extending their season.

Recognizing the long odds, the Panthers also opted against activating safety Da’Norris Searcy from injured reserve.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers To Exercise Shaq Thompson’s 2019 Option

The Panthers intend to exercise their 2019 fifth-year option for LB Shaq Thompson, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. While Carolina hasn’t officially picked up Thompson’s option, it will do so before the May 3 deadline.

While the price tag for Thompson’s fifth-year option hasn’t yet been made public, it will be the average of the third through 25th salaries at linebacker. In 2018, that value will be $8.718MM, so Thompson is likely looking a salary north of $9MM for 2019. While Thomas Davis plans to retire following the upcoming campaign, the Panthers will still have Luke Kuechly under contract, so they’ll be heavily invested at linebacker.

Thompson, 23, has seen his playtime increase in each of his three NFL seasons. Last year, Thompson saw action on 64% of Carolina’s defensive snaps, racking up 37 tackles, two sacks, one pass defensed, and one forced fumble during that time. While he missed two games with a foot injury, Thompson graded as the league’s No. 30 linebacker among 87 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Browner, Cowboys, Foster

Some assorted notes from around the NFL on this Thursday evening…

  • Brandon Browner told Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (via Twitter) that returning to the Seahawks was a “no-brainer.” The veteran also acknowledged that he had received an offer from the Redskins.
  • Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones says the team has faith in Kellen Moore as the team’s No. 2 QB, Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram tweets. Jones’ comments indicate that the team will not be looking for outside help to support starter Tony Romo.
  • Free agent running back Arian Foster says he’s getting closer to being 100% healthy, though he says that he needs some more time before he can look like his old self. “I probably need another month to get where I am, the person everyone is use to seeing,” Foster told David Nuno of ABC13. “I can definitely play, but I need another month to be where I want to be and be at that Pro Bowl level I can be at.
  • Former Duke quarterback Anthony Boone is still in the hospital recovering from hands and hip surgeries following a weekend car crash, writes Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson was operating the vehicle, and while cops said the 22-year-old had been drinking, sobriety tests proved that he was not impaired. Boone, 24, spent time with the Lions last season.

NFC Notes: Kilgore, Carroll, Thompson, Fells

49ers center Daniel Kilgore suffered a broken left leg in a loss against the Broncos one year ago, but his 2015 debut doesn’t appear to be imminent, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. When asked if he could sit out the 2015 season, Kilgore didn’t rule out that scenario.

“I wouldn’t suspect that, but there’s always that possibility,” Kilgore said. “A year ago, I wouldn’t have said I would be in this situation. So you always have that possibility.”

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the NFC….

  • Joining a chorus of NFL head coaches who have had to shoot down college rumors in recent weeks, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said that a return to USC is “not happening,” as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes.
  • Good news for the Panthers: Shaq Thompson appeared to suffer a serious injury on Sunday, but a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) that it turned out to only be a sprained MCL for the rookie linebacker.
  • Cardinals tight end Darren Fells may miss two or three weeks with a sprained shoulder, a source tells ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss (on Twitter). Fells had an MRI on Monday morning to better assess the damage.
  • As we detailed yesterday, the Buccaneers have two players now eligible to begin practicing, and the club announced today that both Demar Dotson (IR-DTR) and Akeem Spence (PUP) will rejoin their teammates on the practice field beginning Tuesday. Tampa Bay will have a three-week window to activate the duo.
  • Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com feels that Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery is worthy of a long-term investment. Jeffery’s performance in Detroit – eight receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown – reinforced his importance to the team in the view of Dickerson, who says Chicago should not let the wideout reach the open market next spring. Dickerson doesn’t view Jeffery as an elite receiver, but he does feel that he is in the next tier, along with guys such as T.Y. Hilton, Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. I’d agree with that assessment, though Jeffery has to stay healthy in order to justify that type of money.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Panthers DC On Thompson, Tillman, HC Gigs

Since defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was hired by the Panthers following the 2011 season, the team’s defense has steadily improved. Prior to his signing, the Panthers placed 27th in points allowed. Since then, the team has moved up the rankings, culminating in allowing the second-fewest points in 2013.

The future is clearly bright for the Carolina defense, and the 41-year-old defensive coordinator added some useful pieces to his unit during the offseason. McDermott sat down with Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer to discuss some of those moves. We’ve highlighted the notable soundbites below…

On the Panthers selection of linebacker Shaq Thompson (25th overall), and how he fits into the team’s system:

You always go through that. I know Dave (Gettleman) and Ron (Rivera) talk a lot about fit. That’s part of the fit for a player. Where do you play him?

I’ve been in the league long enough to know sometimes a player falls to you and you say, pick him. Yeah, well, have you gone through the makeup? Have you gone through the whole (process) and answered all those tough questions? Well, you’ve got him. Now what are you going to do with him?

That’s always an important part of all those conversations leading up to the draft.

On the signing of veteran cornerback Charles Tillman:

Part of being a good coach is putting people in a position to be successful. With Charles, we’ve got a guy that’s played a lot of football. He’s been successful. He’s got some size to him that we feel like can help us.

You look at the division, right down the road in Atlanta, and Tampa, more and more you find these receivers have some vertical size to them. So that certainly helps us in that way. And then Bené [Benwikere], with what he’s shown in terms of tracking the ball, certainly helped as a rookie the last how many games he was out there for. We feel like we’ve got some options at this point. …

Really defense is a game of matchups. If we get a guy in the slot that’s quick, Bené could match up inside for us. And let’s not forget about Colin Jones and what he brings to the table.

On whether he was surprised at the lack of inquiries from other teams regarding his interest in head coaching:

Nah. That stuff, it goes in waves. I’m so dialed in on this team and this season.

Believe it or not, after about four or five days of being off, I’m already itching to get going here. I’m excited for the season. I’m excited for the group of guys we have on defense. It’s a terrific group of guys on the whole team.

They’re high-character, young men that just make it a joy to be around them everyday. I’ll say the same thing with the coaching staff, it’s a great group of men in our organization and I’m extremely happy to be a part of it.

I can’t wait to get training camp started.

Panthers Sign Shaq Thompson

The Panthers announced that they have signed three of their five draft picks, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (on Twitter). First-round linebacker Shaq Thompson, fourth-round tackle Daryl Williams, and fifth-round linebacker David Mayo are now under contract.

Thompson has exceptional speed and agility for a linebacker and he originally arrived at Washington as one of the most highly-ranked safeties in the nation. At the combine, Thompson ran a 4.64 40-yard-dash, faster than a lot of his peers at the position. Some projected Thompson as a second-round pick, but the Panthers ID’d him as the best player there in the first.

The Panthers had only five picks this year, so they only have two unsigned players left to go.

Extra Points: Glennon, Pats, Panthers, S. Moss

As soon as the 2015 NFL concludes, there will be a flurry of news related to undrafted free agent signings. Each team will add 10-12 extra players in the coming days, and while we’ll cover each transaction, we won’t rush to get all the information out as quickly as possible. As we did last year at this time, we’ll wait until a club confirms its UDFA moves before we post them — it’s a policy that will make the information a bit more palatable for readers (and surely, for us as well).

With that said, let’s take a look at some notes as the draft wraps up:

  • Despite their selection of Jameis Winston with the first overall pick, the Buccaneers did not receive any calls about backup quarterback Mike Glennon, according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune (via Twitter). As Cummings notes, Tampa has made it clear that Glennon isn’t on the trade block, so it’s not a total surprise that no other clubs expressed interest.
  • The Patriots selected Navy long snapper Joe Cardona with their fifth-round pick, but might not have the four-year starter when they open up the regular season in September, Cardona has a pending military service commitment, and is required to serve five years as a Naval Officer following his graduation and commission in May, writes Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Cardona will apply for an exemption that will allow him to postpone his service in order to pursue an NFL career.
  • The Panthers selected linebacker/safety hybrid Shaq Thompson with their first-round pick, but drew some criticism about not trading down and selecting him where he was likely to be available early in round two. General manager David Gettleman defended the pick, noting the value of having the fifth-year option on a first-round pick, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (via Twitter).
  • Washington drafted a pair of receivers in Jamison Crowder and Evan Spencer, but that doesn’t mean the end of the line for Santana Moss, writes John Keim of ESPN (via Twitter). Crowder specifically poses a threat to Moss, at 5’8″ and with speed and value returning punts and kicks. Moss caught only 10 passes for 116 yards in 2014, all in the last five games of the season.
  • The Saints were prepared to trade up to select linebacker Davis Tull, said head coach Sean Payton, according to Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com (Twitter link). The Chattanooga product ultimately fell to New Orleans in the fifth round.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

NFC Draft Notes: 49ers, Thompson, Bucs, Gregory

NFL.com’s Marc Sessler explores which teams could move up during Friday’s portion of the draft. The Cowboys and Cardinals top the list, as the writer believes the teams could make a move for a targeted running back. The Lions are a candidate to move up and grab a defensive lineman, while the Saints could target a young quarterback.

Let’s take a look at some more draft notes from the NFC…

  • 49ers GM Trent Baalke told reporters (video link on 49ers’ website) that he didn’t draft defensive end Arik Armstead as insurance against Justin Smith‘s possible retirement. Smith’s status for 2015 and beyond is still up in the air but Baalke has said all along that his uncertain status wouldn’t affect the team’s draft plans.
  • If linebacker Shaq Thompson hadn’t been selected by the Panthers at pick No. 25, Adam Jude of The Seattle Times says (via Twitter) the Cowboys were ready to “pounce” at No. 27.
  • Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times says (via Twitter) the Buccaneers are “thrilled” that offensive tackles Jake Fisher (Oregon) and T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh) are still one the board. The writer notes that the team will target one of the lineman with pick No. 34.
  • Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ed Werder says Randy Gregory is on the Buccaneers draft board, which indicates that the embattled linebacker is also being considered at pick No. 34 (Twitter link).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Draft Notes: Thompson, Winston, Gurley

We’re just days away from the 2015 draft! Here’s the latest news from around the league..

  • Shaq Thompson told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (on Twitter) that he has drawn the most interest from the Panthers, who both worked him out and brought him in for a visit. Thompson, one of the best athletes in this year’s draft class, could be a strong option for the Panthers to groom as an outside linebacker behind Thomas Davis.
  • Sources from five different teams tell Albert Breer of NFL.com (on Twitter) that Georgia running back Todd Gurley has a great shot to be ready by Week 1 of the NFL season. Right now, his medicals from Indianapolis indicate that he’ll be back at some point during training camp, though how his situation is handled will depend on the team that drafts him (link).
  • Former Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston said he received free food from Publix, which led to his shoplifting citation last year and could be a violation of NCAA rules, as Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times writes. One GM told Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) that Winston’s story checks out. “Our investigators found several Publix employees who corroborated what Winston said. Winston told this story to our team and I believe others. We were able to determine that he was telling the truth. I won’t get into more detail than that,” the GM said.
  • Miami offensive tackle Ereck Flowers is visiting the Rams today, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). Flowers is projected to be a first round pick with some pegging him as a candidate for St. Louis at No. 10 overall.