Christian McCaffrey becomes face of the Carolina Panthers franchise.
The Carolina Panthers are undergoing a roster reconstruction this offseason unlike any other in team history. While there is always going to be some turnover from one year to the next in the NFL, Carolina has recently lost a majority of their cornerstone pieces.
Last year, linebacker Thomas Davis – a 14 year Panthers veteran – was not offered a new contract and signed elsewhere. Center Ryan Kalil, another life long Panther initially announced his retirement only to return with another team. After a year without Davis alongside on the Carolina defense, fellow linebacker Luke Kuechly shockingly retired and these moves were just the beginning. Tight end Greg Olsen received similar treatment to Davis after becoming one of the most prominent players from his position in the entire league and then came quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton has been the face of the Panthers franchise since being drafted No. 1 overall in 2011. Injured the past two seasons, Carolina outwardly appeared to be considering moving forward with Newton and new coach Matt Rhule but ultimately, a trade was sought and after no takers, he was cut.
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Leaving a gaping hole for someone to fill, the only legitimate candidate is running back Christian McCaffrey. Still on his rookie contract, McCaffrey will be 24 in June and although he’s undoubtedly reshaped the Carolina offense – how new coordinator Joe Brady elects to utilize someone with such a unique skill set remains to be seen.
However, trade rumors circulate as the Panthers face a tough decision about his immediate future. Given the propensity of Rhule wanting to create a culture of competition, moving on from McCaffrey now and gaining draft capital would certainly open that door across the entire roster.
If McCaffrey was traded, the next likely candidate for someone the franchise could lean on would be … Teddy Bridgewater?
There really aren’t a lot of options and while the Panthers search for their next long-term answer at quarterback and potential new face of the franchise, keeping McCaffrey seems best. If not, Tepper better hope his latest investment moves pay off soon.