Wide receiver Robby Anderson didn’t waste any time during Tuesday’s practice showing why he deserved the two-year extension the Carolina Panthers gave him earlier in the day that sources said is worth $29.5 million.
First, the 28-year-old made a one-handed snag of a scrambling Sam Darnold pass that — while just out of bounds in the end zone — was spectacular.
Later, he made an even more impressive catch of a deep pass from Darnold that went off his hand, off the back foot of cornerback Donte Jackson and back into Anderson’s hands for a touchdown.
As hot as it was outdoors with the heat index right at 100 degrees, Anderson was even hotter in the team’s indoor practice facility.
“Since I came here I felt like I was finding my dream,” stated Anderson, who signed a two-year deal with Carolina last season after spending his first four seasons with the New York Jets.
“Early on in my career, I was kind of lost in a sense and trying to find my way. “I wouldn’t call them mistakes. I would call them lessons that I learned, putting me where I need to be around people I need to be around for me to learn from those things and grow into a better man.”
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That Anderson gets the opportunity to reunite with Darnold figured into his decision to sign the extension of which $20.5 million is guaranteed, according to sources. Anderson was Darnold’s favorite target with the Jets in 2018 and 2019. He had 102 catches for 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns during that time.
“That’s a big factor, too,” Anderson said. “Being back with a quarterback that I’m confident in, that I know is going to be here as well … everything across the board it was all checkmarks.”
The Panthers traded for Darnold during the offseason, then picked up his fifth-year option that locks him down through 2022.
Keeping Darnold surrounded by skill players such as Anderson, the Panthers believe, gives him the best chance to succeed after struggling for three years in New York. They’ve already picked up the fifth-year option on wide receiver DJ Moore for next season and still could sign him to an extension.
They also have running back Christian McCaffrey locked down through 2025 after signing him to a four-year, $64 million extension last year.
“I’m excited for this season, and also excited for the future,” Anderson said.
Anderson is coming off a career-high 95 catches for 1,096 yards in an offense that was missing McCaffrey for 13 games. He believes he can be even better moving forward.
“The main goal is to win,” said Anderson, referring to the Panthers going 5-11 last season. “I’m just glad to have the opportunity for us to accomplish what we’re really working for.”
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