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The Panthers have not yet picked up Sam Darnold’s fifth-year option

Although it has been talked about like it was a formality and a given, according to Matt Rhule, that is not something the team has done yet.

NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

I was listening to Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule give a press conference today surrounding the trade for Sam Darnold, the draft, and how this affects the team and picked up an interesting tidbit while listening. Matt Rhule appears to have indicated that despite wide reporting to the contrary by ESPN, the Panthers have not yet acted on the fifth year option of their new quarterback, Sam Darnold.

Due to it being a live stream, I’m not able to wind back and get the exact quote, but here is my recollection of the question and Rhule’s answer:

Reporter: “was the team’s decision to pick up Sam Darnold’s 5th year option a business decision, or vote of confidence in the guy?”

Rhule: “Oh we haven’t done anything with that yet.”

Then there was an awkward three second silence or so as Rhule just stared into the camera and the reporter fumbled for a follow up question.

The Panthers don’t have to make a decision on that fifth year option until after the draft, May 3 is the cutoff date for that, and honestly it behooves them to wait and see how everything plays out. There is no such thing as a sure thing on draft day, and no one knows what player might fall into the team’s lap at the eighth overall pick.

What it does tell us is that the team is keeping it’s options wide open. Rhule stressed the need to build out the roster before the draft so you could take the best available player during the draft with your top pick, regardless of need.