5 Carolina Panthers players who’ll outperform their pay grade in 2021

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) D.J. Moore
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) D.J. Moore /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) D.J. Moore /

D.J. Moore – Carolina Panthers WR

  • 2021 cap hit – $3.55 million
  • 2022 cap hit – $11.11 million (5th-year option)

Many believe D.J. Moore can take the next step forward in his career this season and enter the truly elite category of wide receivers in the NFL. Considering how inconsistent the quarterback play has been on the Carolina Panthers throughout the former first-round pick’s time with the franchise, the numbers he’s managed to put up in the face of adversity are extraordinary.

Moore has gone over 1,000 yards receiving over the last two seasons. The Maryland product might not be the smoothest route-runner you’ve ever seen, but he’s got rare gift of making things happen and completely shifting the course of a game..

Hopefully for the player and the Panthers, Moore’s chemistry with new signal-caller Sam Darnold will be much improved and can lead both to bigger and better things in 2021.

There are also some significant financial ramifications where Moore is concerned.

Carolina picked up his fifth-year option – which will pay him $11.11 million in 2022. But a Pro Bowl-caliber campaign could lead the Panthers to give their best wideout a long-term deal that keeps the player around throughout his prime.

This won’t be cheap. Spotrac projects Moore to command an annual salary of $15.6 million on a four-year, $64.6 million deal. And that’s before another potentially exceptional campaign from the receiver in 2021.