CHARLOTTE — The Panthers made their big investment on defense Thursday night.
On Friday morning, they secured two key parts of their offense for another year.
Picking up Darnold's option was always part of the plan for the Panthers when they acquired him in a trade with the Jets earlier this month. (Also, you don't trade next year's second- and fourth-round picks for a one-year rental.)
The Panthers also left Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields on the board Thursday night, drafting South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn eighth overall. That decision underscored how they valued Darnold.
"I'm not going to talk about other players; we brought Sam here for a reason," Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said. "We're excited to see what he can do. We're excited to give him an opportunity.
"We traded for him because we believe in his potential."
With Moore, the decision was an easy one, as he's already delivered on his potential.
The 2018 first-rounder had a career-high 1,193 receiving yards last year, despite catching 21 fewer passes than he did in his very good second season (when he had 87 catches for 1,175 yards in 2019). His combined 2,368 receiving yards in those two years rank fifth among NFL wide receivers.
The Panthers believe that kind of deep-ball ability pairs well with Darnold's arm, and gives them two solid parts to build around on offense (along with running back Christian McCaffrey and others).
View the best pictures of DJ Moore from this season as he posted his second-straight 1,000-yard receiving season, ranking second in the NFL with 18.1 yards per catch.