Will Christian McCaffrey ever win MVP with the Carolina Panthers?

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /

Continuing our countdown feature ahead of the new season, we examine whether Carolina Panthers’ No. 22 Christian McCaffrey will ever win MVP during his time with the franchise.

The Carolina Panthers bet big that Christian McCaffrey can spearhead their rise to becoming a contender once again. The running back was rewarded for a historic 2019 campaign with a bumper deal that also sees him become the new face of the franchise this offseason, which was the richest contract ever given to a player at the position.

McCaffrey became on the third player in NFL history to reach 1,000-yards rushing and receiving in the same season. This was an extraordinary achievement from the former first-round pick. But it failed to have any impact on just what sort of record the Carolina Panthers ended up with.

This was no slight on McCaffrey’s production. He carried the Panthers on his back thanks to some less than stellar quarterback play for the most part. But giving the All-Pro more than 400 combined touches once again would not be the smart way to go.

Carolina gave their star back a four-year, $64 million deal with a $21 million signing bonus, and $38 million guaranteed this offseason. This bucked the growing trend leaguewide not to pay productive players at the position. And few would McCaffrey is not worthy of such a financial commitment.

His exceptional efforts last season saw him enter the MVP discussion. But given the Panthers’ 5-11 record this was never a realistic option.

How can Christian McCaffrey win MVP on the Carolina Panthers?

This is an award that is normally saved for quarterbacks. As has been the case over the last two campaigns with Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. Adrian Peterson was the last running back to win MVP after a sensational year with the Minnesota Vikings back in 2012. This is yet another indicator of the hurdles in front of McCaffrey in pursuit of this distinction.

Few would deny that McCaffrey is heading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he continues this elite level of production during his career. The former Stanford sensation has logged 5,443 all-purpose yards and 39 touchdowns from an incredible 926 touches during his first three years in the NFL. This has elevated him to the league’s best dual-threat back. But winning the MVP is another matter entirely.

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Realistically speaking, McCaffrey is never going to be in pole position for this award until the Panthers improve their overall fortunes. This is not something that is to be expected in the next year or two. But there are high hopes for Carolina to become a contender from 2022 onwards under Matt Rhule.

The Panthers do at least have McCaffrey tied down for his prime years. And their offense is loaded with playmakers that might ensure they surprise more than a few who have written off their chances in 2020.

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Everything good is still going to go through McCaffrey despite their dynamic wide receivers who have the potential to light up the league in 2020. All he can do is keep performing at the highest level. And if the Panthers trend on an upward curve sooner than expected, then it might just come with the biggest individual accolade of all.