Panthers to pick up option on Shaq Thompson

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The Panthers drafted Shaq Thompson as an eventual replacement for Thomas Davis, so they figured they might as well keep Thompson around after Davis is gone.

According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers plan to pick up the fifth-year option on Thompson’s rookie deal for 2019.

Davis, their 2005 first-rounder who has overcome three torn ACLs, played in the Super Bowl with a broken arm and won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, is retiring at the end of the coming season.

Thompson is easy to overlook — playing alongside Davis and Luke Kuechly will do that — but the Panthers believe he’s a key part of their future on defense. He started 36 games the last three seasons.