How McCaffrey is elevating to role model status among peers

Dean Jones
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has elevated himself to role model status with his peers after just three years in the NFL.

Although Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is still relatively young in terms of his career. He has now become an inspiration for others looking to follow in his footsteps.

The All-Pro has enjoyed a standout career to date after the Carolina Panthers used their first-round pick on him back in 2017. This has resulted in some elite production that has propelled the player to one of the brightest talents in the league.

McCaffrey was rewarded for his outstanding production with a four-year extension worth $64 million this offseason. The new deal included a $21 million signing bonus and just over $38 million guaranteed.

This no doubt got the attention of other running backs across the NFL who are looking for a similar commitment in the coming years. One of these was Saquon Barkley, who was taken No. 2 overall in 2018 by the New York Giants and has been a revelation during his time on the field.

Barkley will make a $3.31 million base salary in 2020. Another season of elite production could see the player seek a contract extension and would be wise to use McCaffrey’s recent deal as a yardstick ahead of any potential negotiations.

Speaking on a Zoom call with reporters regarding McCaffrey, Barkley had this to say on the Panthers’ new face of the franchise and his own contract situation.

"“I’m happy for him (McCaffrey), he deserves it. I worked out with him one time and you could just see his work ethic and how attention to detail he is. I’m a big believer in taking care of the little things first. For now, that means getting to meetings on time, trying to be the best leader and player I can. If you take care of that, everything will take care of itself in the future. It’s a business, that’s why you have to take advantage of every day however you can.”"

McCaffrey’s work ethic and ability to carry the Carolina Panthers on his back over the last two seasons have not gone unnoticed. He is clearly revered by his compatriots and even though he might not be much older, the player has now elevated himself to role model status and someone that Barkley and others can aspire to emulate in the future.

This tells you everything about the way McCaffrey has coped with responsibility. He is meticulous in his actions on and off the field and conducts himself in a way that is befitting a professional athlete.

While there is pressure on the Panthers to ease the burden on McCaffrey in 2020 and beyond. Getting the player to commit long-term is something that was a huge morale boost during a turbulent offseason that saw many seasoned veterans end their association with the franchise.

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The former Stanford product is the best dual-threat back in the league. This might see him become an inspiration from afar by other players at the position. But it also puts a huge bullseye on his back heading into 2020.