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Panthers Make Major Decision On QB Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold throwing a pass.

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 09: Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets throws in the second quarter during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on December 9, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Despite months of rumors that the Carolina Panthers might take a quarterback with their No. 8 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Panthers addressed their defense by taking CB Jaycee Horn on Draft Day. That all but confirms that Sam Darnold will be their starter for the 2021 season.

But based on the latest decision the Panthers made, it won't just be the 2021 season. On Friday, the Carolina Panthers officially picked up Sam Darnold's fifth-year contract option.

The move keeps Darnold under contract with the Panthers through the 2022 season. It's a bold (and somewhat expensive) move for a Panthers team that hasn't even had him on the field yet.

The Panthers acquired Darnold in a trade with the New York Jets earlier this month. They offered up a sixth-round pick this year and a second- and fourth-round pick in 2022 to bring him into the fold.

It's a little difficult to gauge Darnold even after three years in the league. He's shown flashes of the talent that made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but struggled mightily in New York.

Injuries have also been an issue. He's missed 10 games and never played more than 13 games in a season.

In 38 games, Darnold has averaged just 213 yards per game and has a 78.6 passer rating. 2020 was his worst year by far though. He completed less than 60-percent of his passes for 2,208 yards and just nine touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

But if anyone can resurrect Darnold's career, it's Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and OC Joe Brady.