Shaq Thompson

American football player (born 1994)

American football player
Shaq Thompson
refer to caption
Thompson in 2019
No. 54 – Carolina Panthers
Personal information
Born: (1994-04-21) April 21, 1994 (age 30)
Sacramento, California, U.S.
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High school:Grant Union (Sacramento)
College:Washington (2012–2014)
NFL draft:2015 / Round: 1 / Pick: 25
Career history
  • Carolina Panthers (2015–present)
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2023
Total tackles:717
Forced fumbles:4
Fumble recoveries:4
Pass deflections:26
Player stats at PFR

Shaquille Green Thompson (born April 21, 1994) is an American football linebacker for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the Washington Huskies, earning first-team All-American honors in 2014. He also had a short stint playing baseball with the Boston Red Sox organization as part of their rookie team in the Gulf Coast League. Since being drafted he has played a hybrid safety and linebacker position for the Panthers, also known as "the Big Nickel".[2]

Early life

A native of Sacramento, California, Thompson attended Grant Union High School, where he was a three-sport star in football, track and baseball. He was named first-team All-America by, Parade and USA Today, and second-team All-America from and Sports Illustrated. He was one of six finalists for the U.S. Army Player of the Year Award. He was named the area's player of the year by The Sacramento Bee, and also the Player of the Year in the Delta Valley League. As a sophomore, he helped Pacers to a 12–1 overall record. As a junior, he rushed for 1,882 yards and 25 touchdowns on 164 carries, helping lead Grant to an 8–4 record and the quarterfinals of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. He was named the Delta Valley League MVP in 2011. He totaled 57 tackles as a senior while also rushing for 1,134 yards and 15 touchdowns on 120 carries and passing for 893 yards and eight more scores. He also played in the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl after his senior year.[3]

In addition to football, Thompson was a standout baseball player. Thompson was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 18th round of the 2012 MLB Draft, and played for the Sox' rookie-level team in the Gulf Coast League in the summer of 2012.[4] He decided to end his baseball career and focus on football full-time after he went 0–39 with 37 strikeouts over 13 games.[5]

Also a talented sprinter, Thompson lettered all four years in track & field. He posted a personal-best time of 10.96 seconds in the 100-meter dash at the 2010 CIF San Joaquin Master Finals, where he took seventh.[6] He finished fifth in the 200-meter dash (21.69 s) at the 2010 CIF State Track and Field Championships.[7] At the 2011 CIF State Track and Field Championships, he placed seventh (21.77 s) in the 200 meters in a race dominated by defending state champion Remontay McClain.[8]

Thompson was regarded as a five star-recruit. He was ranked the No. 1 safety and the No. 3 overall prospect in the country by He was listed as the No. 1 safety in the nation, No. 4 overall recruit in the country and the No. 1 prospect in the state of California by He was also rated the No. 4 recruit in the country by SuperPrep, which also named him the Far West Defensive Player of the Year. He first committed to the University of California, Berkeley before changing his commitment to the University of Washington on January 31, 2012.[9]

US college sports recruiting information for high school athletes
Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
Shaq Thompson
Sacramento, California Grant Union High School 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 4.57 Jan 31, 2012 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:5/5 stars   Rivals:5/5 stars   247Sports:5/5 stars    ESPN grade: 84
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 3 (overall), 1 (S)   Rivals: 4 (overall), 1 (S), 1 (CA)  ESPN: 16 (overall), 3 (S), 3 (CA)
  • ‡ Refers to 40 yard dash
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height, weight and 40 time.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


  • "Washington Football Commitment List (25)". Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  • "2012 Washington College Football Recruiting Commits". Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  • "ESPN". Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  • " Team Recruiting Rankings". Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  • "2012 Team Ranking". Retrieved May 11, 2015.

College career

Thompson in 2011.

Thompson played at the University of Washington from 2012 to 2014, where he played safety, slot corner, linebacker, and running back. As a junior, he won the Paul Hornung Award and was named an All-American.[10][11]

As a freshman in 2012, Thompson earned an honorable mention All-Pac-12 Conference, was named second-team Freshman All-American by and was picked for the Travis Spring Most Outstanding Freshman award at the team banquet. He started at nickel back in his first college game in a season-opener vs. San Diego State. He made seven tackles, two for loss, and had a crucial, late interception that he returned 33 yards in a win at Cal. He also had a strong performance at Washington State, collecting eight tackles, including a sack, and also recovering a fumble and returning it 21 yards.

As a sophomore in 2013, Thompson played in every game and started all but the Apple Cup at linebacker. He was an honorable mention All-Pac-12. He picked up the team's Chuck Niemi Big Hit Award. He scored on an 80-yard interception return in the win at Oregon State, where he also had four tackles. He notched six tackles in the Apple Cup win over Washington State. He recorded eight tackles in the Huskies' win over BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl.

In his final year at Washington in 2014, Thompson was awarded the fifth annual Paul Hornung Award, given to the nation's most versatile player. He was named first-team All-America by ESPN, CBS Sports, and SB Nation. He announced on January 5, 2015, that he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2015 NFL Draft. He was named a Midseason All-American by ESPN,, CBS Sports and Phil Steele. He was listed as the national defensive player of the year by three of six writers on the CBS Sports panel. He scored six touchdowns in 2014, two as a running back and four on defense (one interception return and three fumble returns). He was named a first-team preseason All-America by Athlon. He made's preseason All-America second team. He was also named to the preseason watch list for both the Bednarik (top defensive player) and Paul Hornung (most versatile player) Awards. He started each of the Huskies' games for the season. In a victory over Eastern Washington, he notched 15 tackles, including a sack, forced a fumble and also had three carries for 66 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown run. He was named the national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Foundation and Athlon's following a two-touchdown performance vs. Illinois, where he scored on a 36-yard interception return and on a 52-yard fumble return, becoming the first Husky on record to have scored two defensive touchdowns in the same game. He scored his third defensive touchdown (and fourth overall) vs. Stanford, returning a fumble (that he forced) 32 yards for a score. He also had seven tackles, including one for a loss, and forced another fumble vs. the Cardinal. He scored on a 100-yard fumble return in the win at Cal, where he was a game captain. He has one of just four 100-yard plays in University of Washington history (the others were a punt return by Hugh McElhenny, and kickoff returns by Paul Arnold and John Ross). He also had a game-high 11 tackles against the Bears, and was named the National Defensive Player of the Week by Athlon, as well as Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, following the Cal game. He played mostly running back vs. Arizona State, gaining 98 yards on 21 carries, and also caught two passes for 15 yards. He started at tailback at Colorado, rushing for 174 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries (11.6-yard average), leading this to be named the team's offensive player of the game after the win in Boulder. He made a second straight start at tailback, but also saw a good deal of action on the defense, vs. UCLA, when he was a game captain. He rushed for 100 yards on 16 carries vs. the Bruins, while also notching four tackles. He played only on defense and special teams at Arizona, finishing with three tackles. He made five tackles in the Apple Cup win at Washington State. He posted 10 tackles, including half of a tackle for loss, in the Cactus Bowl. He was tied for second in the nation with four fumble recoveries. Following his junior season, Thompson announced on January 5, 2015, that he would forgo his senior season and declare the 2015 NFL Draft.[12][13]

Professional career

External videos
video icon Thompson's NFL Combine 40-yard dash
Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump
6 ft 0+18 in
(1.83 m)
228 lb
(103 kg)
33 in
(0.84 m)
9+12 in
(0.24 m)
4.64 s 1.69 s 2.75 s 4.08 s 6.99 s 33+12 in
(0.85 m)
9 ft 9 in
(2.97 m)
All values from NFL Combine[14][15]


Thompson in his rookie season.

The Carolina Panthers selected Thompson in the first round (25th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft.[16] He was the third outside linebacker, behind Bud Dupree and Shane Ray, and seventh edge rusher drafted in 2015. On May 7, 2015, the Panthers signed Thompson to a four-year, $8.80 million contract that includes $7.17 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $4.66 million.[17][18]

External videos
video icon Panthers draft Shaq Thompson

Thompson was not able to attend training camp until Washington's school year ended due to the NFL's policy on rookies being unable to join training camp until the conclusion of the school year.[19] Throughout training camp, he competed for the job as the starting outside linebacker against A. J. Klein.[20] Head coach Ron Rivera named Thompson the starting strongside linebacker, alongside Thomas Davis Sr. and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly.[21]

He make his professional regular season debut and first career start in the Panthers' season-opening 20–9 victory at the Jacksonville Jaguars.[22] On September 27, 2015, Thompson recorded a season-high seven combined tackles and made his first career sack on Drew Brees in a 27–22 victory against the New Orleans Saints.[23] In Week 6, he collected four combined tackles before leaving the 27–23 victory at the Seattle Seahawks due to a knee sprain.[24] The knee injury sidelined him for the next two games (Weeks 7–8). On January 3, 2016, Thompson tied his season-high with seven combined tackles during a 38–10 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[25] He finished his rookie season in 2015 with a total of 50 combined tackles (32 solo), two pass deflections, and a sack in 14 games and ten starts.[26]

The Panthers finished first in the NFC South with a 15–1 record and received a first round bye. On January 17, 2016, Thompson started his first career playoff game and assisted on one tackle during the Panthers' 31–24 victory against the Seattle Seahawks in the National Football Conference (NFC) Divisional Round. The Panthers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 49–15 in the NFC Championship the following week. On February 7, 2016, Thompson appeared in Super Bowl 50 and recorded five combined tackles as the Panthers were defeated 24–10 by the Denver Broncos.[27][28]


Thompson in 2016.

Thompson sustained a knee sprain and was forced to miss two games (Week 9–10).[29] On December 11, 2016, he made seven combined tackles, broke up a pass, and made his first career interception off of a pass attempt by Philip Rivers in a 28–16 victory over the San Diego Chargers. In Week 16, Thompson recorded a season-high 11 combined tackles and deflected a pass during the Panthers' 33–16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Thompson finished the 2016 season with 56 combined tackles (39 solo), five pass deflections, and an interception in 14 games and 12 starts.[26] Pro Football Focus gave Thompson an overall grade of 85.6 in 2016 and played 533 defensive snaps.[30]


Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks retained Thompson as the starting strongside linebacker after Sean McDermott departed to become the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. He started the Panthers' season-opener at the San Francisco 49ers, recording two solo tackles and a sack of Brian Hoyer during their 23–3 victory. On October 1, 2017, Thompson made a season-high ten combined tackles in their 33–30 win against the New England Patriots.[31] He missed two games (Week 14–15) after suffering from plantar fasciitis. He finished his third season with a career-high 61 combined tackles (41 solo), two sacks, and one pass deflections in 14 games, all of them starts.[26] Pro Football Focus gave Thompson an overall grade of 77.4, which ranked 31st among all qualifying linebackers in 2017.[32]


On April 23, 2018, the Panthers picked up the fifth-year option on Thompson's contract.[33] He played in 14 games with 11 starts, recording a career-high 79 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He suffered a shoulder injury in Week 15 and was placed on injured reserve on December 20, 2018.[34]

In Week 4 of the 2019 season against the Houston Texans, Thompson recorded a team-high 12 tackles and sacked quarterback Deshaun Watson once in the 16–10 win.[35] In Week 9 against the Tennessee Titans, Thompson recorded a team-high 11 tackles and sacked Ryan Tannehill once in the 30–20 win.[36] On December 7, 2019, Thompson signed a four-year, $54.2 million contract extension with the Panthers.[37]

In Week 3 of the 2020 season against the Los Angeles Chargers, Thompson led the team with 12 tackles, forced a fumble on running back Joshua Kelley, and recovered the football during the 21–16 win.[38] He was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the Panthers on December 7, 2020,[39] and activated on December 11.[40]

Thompson (#7) playing against the Washington Football Team in 2021.

With the NFL's new rules on jersey numbers, Thompson chose to switch his jersey number to #7 in 2021 - the number he wore in college.[41]

In March 2022, Thompson agreed to a contract restructure in order free up cap space for the Panthers.[42] He started all 17 games in 2022, recording a career-high and team-leading 135 tackles, four passes defensed, and 0.5 sacks.

In Week 2 of the 2023 season, Thompson suffered a broken fibula and was placed on injured reserve on September 19, 2023.[43]


Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Comb Solo Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF FR
2015 CAR 14 10 50 32 18 1.0 -- 2 0 0 0 0 -- 0 0
2016 CAR 14 12 56 39 17 0.0 -- 5 1 12 12.0 12 -- 0 2
2017 CAR 14 14 61 41 12 2.0 -- 1 0 0 0 0 -- 1 0
2018 CAR 14 11 79 50 29 3.5 -- 1 0 0 0 0 -- 1 0
2019 CAR 14 14 109 75 34 3.0 -- 3 0 0 0 0 -- 0 0
2020 CAR 16 16 114 64 50 0.0 -- 5 0 0 0 0 -- 2 1
2021 CAR 14 13 104 65 39 2.0 -- 5 2 39 19.5 29 -- 0 0
2022 CAR 17 17 135 78 57 0.5 -- 4 0 0 0 0 -- 0 0
Total 117 106 707 443 265 12.0 0 26 3 51 17.0 29 0 4 3


Personal life

Raised in Sacramento, California, Thompson is the son of Patty, a single mother, and the youngest of four brothers. His older brother Syd'Quan played for the Denver Broncos.[44]

On October 14, 2019, Thompson announced on his Twitter account that his mother had died, just hours after the Panthers' 37–26 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London.[45]

On November 27, 2021, along with three other players, Thompson was placed on the Panthers COVID-19 reserve list.


  1. ^ Pac-12 ConferenceDec 1, 2014 (December 1, 2014). "announces Football All-Academic teams". Pac-12. Retrieved September 18, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Jourdan Rodridge (December 13, 2017). "Panthers big nickel Shaq Thompson is day to day with foot injury, so what's next step?". Archived from the original on December 15, 2017. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  3. ^ Shaq Thompson. "Shaq Thompson - 2012 Football Roster - | University of Washington Athletics". Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  4. ^ "Shaq Green-Thompson can hit receivers, but not the curveball". USA Today. August 15, 2012.
  5. ^ Shusterman, Jordan (December 22, 2014). "Shaq Thompson and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Baseball Career".
  6. ^ "Sac-Joaquin Masters Finals - Track & Field Meet". October 8, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  7. ^ "CIF California Track & Field State Meet - Final Results (Raw)". Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  8. ^ "News - 2011 Results - California CIF Outdoor State Championships".
  9. ^ Biggins, Greg (January 31, 2012). "Shaq Thompson commits to Huskies". ESPN Recruiting Nation. ESPN. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
  10. ^ UW's Shaq Thompson wins Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player
  11. ^ "The Seattle Times | Local news, sports, business, politics, entertainment, travel, restaurants and opinion for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest". Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  12. ^ "All-American Shaq Thompson Headed To The NFL". Archived from the original on January 5, 2015.
  13. ^ "Versatile Thompson leaving Huskies for draft". January 5, 2015.
  14. ^ "NFL Draft Profile: Shaq Thompson". Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  15. ^ "Draft ranking 2015". Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  16. ^ "Shaq Thompson is an excellent example of BPA paying off". August 5, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  17. ^ "Shaq Thompson Contract Details, Salary Cap Breakdowns, Salaries, Bonuses". Spotrac. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  18. ^ " Shaq Thompson contract". Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  19. ^ Skiver, Kevin (June 16, 2017). "Quarters rule for NFL rookies: What it is, why it exists, why it's controversial". Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  20. ^ Jonathan Jones (June 15, 2015). "Carolina Panthers LB Shaq Thompson finally trades schoolbooks for playbook". Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  21. ^ Jones, Jonathan (September 6, 2015). "Panthers name Shaq Thompson as Week 1 starter at strongside linebacker".
  22. ^ Personjperson, Joseph (September 20, 2015). "Carolina Panthers report card 09.20.15". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  23. ^ Final (September 27, 2015). "Saints vs. Panthers - Box Score - September 27, 2015 - ESPN". Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  24. ^ Jonesjjones, Jonathan (October 19, 2015). "Panthers LB Shaq Thompson's status in doubt after knee injury vs. Seahawks". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  25. ^ "Stats and Superlatives: Panthers' Historical Regular Season". January 3, 2016. Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  26. ^ a b c d "NFL Player stats: Shaq Thompson (career)". Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  27. ^ "Super Bowl 50 - Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers - February 7th, 2016". Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  28. ^ "Super Bowl 50 - National Football League Game Summary" (PDF). Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  29. ^ "Injury Report: Shaq Thompson set to return". Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  30. ^ Whitefield, Brett (May 25, 2017). "Best player under 25 years old at every defensive position". Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  31. ^ "NFL Player stats: Shaq Thompson (2017)". Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  32. ^ "Pro Football Focus: Shaq Thompson". Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  33. ^ Bergman, Jeremy (April 23, 2018). "Panthers picking up Shaq Thompson's fifth-year option".
  34. ^ Scott, Jelani (December 20, 2018). "Panthers place Shaq Thompson on injured reserve". Archived from the original on December 21, 2018. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  35. ^ "Panthers down Texans 16-10 despite Allen's fumbles". September 29, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  36. ^ "McCaffrey scores 3 TDs as Panthers defeat Titans 30-20". November 3, 2019. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  37. ^ Gordon, Grant (December 7, 2019). "Panthers sign Shaq Thompson to 4-year, $54.2M deal". Archived from the original on December 7, 2019.
  38. ^ "Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Chargers - September 27th, 2020". Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  39. ^ Gantt, Darin (December 7, 2020). "Panthers place eight players on reserve/COVID list". Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  40. ^ Bryan, Will (December 11, 2020). "Three players activated from reserve/COVID-19 list". Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  41. ^ Gantt, Darin (September 12, 2021). "New look for Panthers linebackers". Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  42. ^ Gantt, Darin (March 7, 2022). "Panthers restructure Shaq Thompson's contract". Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  43. ^ Gantt, Darin (September 19, 2023). "Panthers place Shaq Thompson on IR".
  44. ^ Condotta, Bob (February 14, 2012). "Full of surprises: The story behind Shaquille Thompson signing with Washington". Seattle Times.
  45. ^ @ShaqThompson_7 (October 14, 2019). "I thought you would live forever!!..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shaq Thompson.
  • Shaq Thompson on X Edit this at Wikidata
  • Career statistics and player information from Yahoo! Sports
  • Carolina Panthers bio
  • ESPN Recruiting profile
  • Career statistics and player information from Fangraphs, or Baseball Reference (Minors)
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