Darnold to make $18.9 million after Panthers pick up option

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers upped their commitment to Sam Darnold on Friday, picking up the fifth-year option on the quarterback’s rookie contract. He will now make $18.9 million for the 2022 season.

Darnold's contract would have expired after the 2021 season, and he would have become an unrestricted free agent if the Panthers had not picked up the fifth-year option. With the move, the Panthers solidified their quarterback position for the next two seasons.

Carolina passed on Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with the eighth pick in Thursday night’s draft, instead taking cornerback Jaycee Horn from South Carolina, another indication of Darnold's standing.

“We brought Sam here for a reason and we are excited to see what he can do,” Rhule said Friday night on the decision not to select Fields. “We traded for him because we believe in his potential.”

The team also recently traded Teddy Bridgewater, last year's starting quarterback, to the Denver Broncos for a sixth round draft pick.

Carolina acquired Darnold from the New York Jets in April for a sixth-round pick in this year‘s draft and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022. Darnold was the third overall pick by the New York Jets in the 2018 draft.

The team also confirmed it has picked up wide receiver D.J. Moore's fifth-year option, which will pay him $11.1 million in 2022.

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Steve Reed, The Associated Press