The Carolina Panthers believe that linebacker Shaq Thompson has a brighter future ahead of him, and a recent report from the Charlotte Observer further backs up that belief.
The Observer’s Joseph Person is reporting that the Panthers plan to exercise the fifth-year option for the 2019 season in Thompson’s contract. The fifth-year option gives Carolina an extra year of team control on Thompson’s rookie scale contract, and will allow the Washington alum to play the 2019 season at a salary that works for both sides.
In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Panthers drafted Thompson 25th overall. That means with the fifth-year option in 2019, Thompson will make a base salary of the average value of the third through 25th highest-paid linebackers in the NFL, since he was picked between 11th overall and 32nd overall in the draft.
Person also notes that the fifth-year salary for linebackers in that slot last year was $8.7 million, and that NFL teams will have til May 3rd to inform players whether they will receive the fifth-year option or not.
Thompson often finds himself overlooked in a star-studded Panthers defense that features Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis at his position, but the plan in Carolina appears to be letting Thompson grow into his role before Davis retires. At age 35, retirement could come as early as next season for Davis, and then it would officially be go time for Thompson.
The 23-year-old Thompson, who will turn 24 in April, had 61 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 sacks, and 1 pass deflection in 2017. He has started 36 total games for the Panthers so far in his three-year career.
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