Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey currently occupies an increasingly popular space in the NFL. Technically, he is under contract. He has four years left on his deal after being extended last offseason and makes an average of $16 million annually.
Despite that, it’s very much beginning to feel like him getting dealt is inevitable.
Although McCaffrey is just a couple of years removed from being the third running back in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, things have not gone well for him since then.
Since that campaign, McCaffrey has participated in just 10 of 33 outings due to health issues. That has resulted in him amassing just 667 yards rushing and 492 yards receiving. Not quite what the Panthers envisioned when they turned him into the highest-paid running back in NFL history.
This week, during an episode of “The Spotrac Podcast,” salary cap expert Mike Ginnitti gave his thoughts on a trade between the Buffalo Bills and Panthers that would center around McCaffrey and wide receiver Cole Beasley (plus a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick).
“It’s a lot of compensation,” he said. “The reason I threw Beasley on this list is A, I believe the Bills will move on anyway. And B, I’m bringing in Christian McCaffrey to be a quasi slot receiver, because I think that’s actually where his career is headed. No matter where he is, even if he stays in Carolina. I do think that’s how you keep him healthy. I think that’s where he has the most value right now.
“You keep him outside the tackles, away from those big defensive tackles, and you let him go and cook in the middle of the field a little bit and hopefully let him be a little safer in that regard and catch 75 or 80 balls and certainly get some goal line work as well. Buffalo can certainly use this.
“This is an upgrade position for them, both out of the backfield as a running back and in terms of that maybe third or fourth receiver.”
That sort of aligns with something Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports reported just last week.
“If a team wishes to add McCaffrey, I’m told the Panthers would be looking for a first-round pick plus another piece of compensation in order to ship one of the most versatile offensive weapons in the NFL today.”
It will be interesting to see where things with McCaffrey go from here. He is a fascinating talent, but the injury concerns are real and justified. Him posing for racy photos with his girlfriend was fun when he was an elite player putting up elite numbers. But he hasn’t been that in a while.
There’s a reason why so many have questioned whether fun times with Olivia Culpo have taken a toll on his health.
Paige kept it real. https://t.co/8gO0TGLONW
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 9, 2022
In any case – it really feels like McCaffrey’s time in Carolina is coming to an end.
Will Buffalo be his next stop?
Time will tell.