The Carolina Panthers have officially inked a key part of their defensive future. The team announced they have signed linebacker Shaq Thompson to a four-year contract extension. The deal is worth $54.2 million, and includes a $16 million signing bonus, per NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport.
Thompson is playing on his fifth-year option, so this extension keeps him under contract through the 2023 season. He’s having the best season of his career, already with a career-high 93 tackles in 12 games. He had never played more than 14 games each of his first four seasons, but is on track for a full 16-game season. He also has three sacks, which is half a sack off his career high last season.
The Panthers defense has struggled this season, most notably ranking 32nd in run defense efficiency and 29th in adjusted line yards. With Thompson signed next to Luke Kuechly, look for the Panthers to add some talent up front to beef up the front seven heading into 2020.