In October, it looked like the Carolina Panthers were beginning a long-term rebuilding process when they fired head coach Matt Rhule, traded star running back Christian McCaffrey, and decided to bench quarterback Baker Mayfield.
But now, they’re starting to position themselves for a nice bounce-back.
On Friday, they acquired the first pick in next month’s NFL draft from the Chicago Bears, and now they have reportedly agreed to terms on a new contract with linebacker Shaq Thompson.
Sources: #Panthers standout LB Shaq Thompson is expected to remain in Carolina on a reworked 2-year deal, as the team keeps one of its leaders. A big week for the Panthers, who traded for the top pick, then retain a top veteran defender for a ninth season. pic.twitter.com/zhNqB2D0HW
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2023
Thompson started all 17 games in 2022 and posted 135 tackles (78 solo), eight tackles for loss, and four passes defended.
At age 28 (he will be 29 next season), he is something of a veteran presence on a relatively young Carolina team.
In fact, he played on it’s 2015 AFC championship squad that went to the Super Bowl, only to lose to the Denver Broncos in Peyton Manning’s final game.
The Panthers certainly need help on the defensive side of the football after ranking 20th in points allowed, 28th in passing touchdowns allowed, and 29th in total yards given up this past season.
With the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, they’re positioned to take someone who could very well be a legitimate franchise quarterback for them for many years to come.
Many feel they will, in all likelihood, take the University of Alabama’s Bryce Young, or else select C.J. Stroud of Ohio State University.
However, there is reportedly a growing buzz that they may instead opt for Anthony Richardson of the University of Florida, who dazzled scouts at the NFL Combine.NEXT: Dan Orlovsky Says He Has A 'Gut' Feeling Of Panthers' No. 1 Pick