Carolina Panthers: Why trading Christian McCaffrey is a bad idea

Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Many reports suggest the Carolina Panthers should deal All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey this offseason but this is a terrible idea.

It has been a rough offseason for Carolina Panthers fans, to say the least, as they have now seen long time favorites Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen and Cam Newton play their final snaps for the team. This has many people speculating 2020 is a full-blown rebuilding year for Carolina and that it should consider making its best players available for trade. This includes All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey.

The running back position has been downgraded in the eyes of many NFL executives to the point that it is getting borderline disrespectful. Many teams’ strategies have been to run workhorse running backs into the ground and then part ways when their rookie contracts expire.

In a league that is passing the ball more and more each year, running back is being viewed as an expendable position. The thing is, McCaffrey transcends the position. He’s only the third running back in NFL history to run and receive for over 1,000 yards in a single season, joining the elite company of Roger Craig (1985) and Marshall Faulk (1999) last season.

McCaffrey’s receiving stats alone were better than some of the NFL’s most elite wide receivers. He had more receptions (116) than DeAndre Hopkins (104), more receiving yards (1005) than Davante Adams (997) and the same amount of touchdown catches as Odell Beckham (4). That’s three No. 1 receivers who McCaffrey outperformed at a position he doesn’t even play.

One cannot view McCaffrey with the same lens as other running backs in the league. He provides so much more value than just running the ball between the tackles for minimal gains or to simply wind the clock. He is the focal point of an offense that now has a starting quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who likes to check down and throw short to intermediate passes.

At just 24 years old when the 2020 season begins, McCaffrey’s value is sky high which is why many reports suggest Carolina should deal him now rather than later.

The problem is that even a ransom of draft picks would likely not be enough to return the value that the team would lose if it decided to trade the All-Pro. As demonstrated above, if the Panthers were to lose McCaffrey they would have to replace him with not only a No. 1 workhorse running back but also a legitimate No. 1 receiver.

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McCaffrey never takes a snap off and is involved in everything the Panthers do on offense. The new coaching staff is not going to change that. Coach Matt Rhule has repeatedly talked about building a culture of hard-working, intelligent and team-first players – who better fits this mold than McCaffrey?

Moving on from Olsen and Newton was a lot easier to explain because both players are past their prime and have more than likely already played their best football whereas McCaffrey has yet to peak. While the shelf life for running backs might not be as long as other positions, it would send a really dismal message to Panthers fans and players if the team did indeed decide to trade their young playmaker.

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Trading the team’s best overall player just doesn’t make sense for a Carolina team that is looking to move on and start a new chapter in 2020.