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Panthers picking up Shaq Thompson's fifth-year option

Shaq Thompson is staying in Charlotte for at least another year.

The Carolina Panthers are picking up the starting linebacker's fifth-year option, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday. The Panthers confirmed the move Tuesday. Thompson is now under contract through 2019.

Widely considered a no-brainer option pick-up, Thompson has logged 159 tackles and three sacks in 36 starts and 42 games played over his first three seasons in the league. Carolina selected Thompson with the 25th pick of the 2015 draft, and the Washington product has been a welcome addition to arguably the game's best linebacker group in Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly.

Thompson's presence on the field will be of increased importance early on in 2018 while the veteran Davis serves a four-game suspension.

With Thompson under lock and key through the 2019 season, Carolina can instead focus on assessing and/or extending its many free-agents-to-be in the 2019 offseason: Greg Olsen, Devin Funchess and Wes Horton.

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