Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara should thank Christian McCaffrey

Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara should be thanking Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey after getting new deals before the season.

Two more running backs got long-term deals before the 2020 season and they should be thanking Christian McCaffrey.

At a time where NFL teams appeared reluctant to pay running backs their going rate due to their short shelf life, McCaffrey bucked the trend with a bumper four-year, $64 million deal with a $21 million signing bonus and $38 million guaranteed. This was something that made him the new face of the Carolina Panthers and put the pressure on other organizations to do the same with their stars at the position.

It might have been a long time coming, but Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara officially agreed on lucrative extensions with the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints respectively. They should thank McCaffrey for indirectly assisting them in their bid to get deals done that is more in keeping with their level of production.

The Carolina Panthers led the way with Christian McCaffrey.

The NFL’s illustrious history is full of big running back contracts that were nothing short of a disaster., One only has to look at the money given to Todd Gurley during his time with the Los Angeles Rams to see that. But it is hard to look at McCaffrey, Cook, or Kamara and dispute just how important they are to their teams’ chances of success in 2020 and beyond.

Neither player will be getting as much as McCaffrey. Cook’s contract includes just over $28 million guaranteed over five years and Kamara’s works out at about $34.33 million in guarantees. This is slightly less than the All-Pro got from the Panthers after becoming the third back in NFL history to go over 1,000-yards rushing and receiving in the same season last time out.

McCaffrey’s new deal set the benchmark for others to aim at. Neither player was going to get more than the former first-round pick thanks to his exceptional level of production during his first three years in Carolina that resulted in 5,443 all-purpose yards and 39 touchdowns.

Carolina’s star player has also stayed far healthier than both Cook and Kamara to further enhance his claims as to who the NFL’s best dual-threat back is. All three are going to play pivotal roles next season and beyond. But the two who are celebrating new deals will have better postseason ambitions in the short-term.

This might come in time for the Panthers, but it is unlikely to happen in 2020. The organization is in the midst of a significant rebuild under new head coach Matt Rhule and although they could surprise those who have already written off their chances next season, a trip to the playoffs might be a step too far.

McCaffrey is someone that every NFL running back is shooting for in terms of production, which is matched by an exemplary attitude and an ability to inspire others around him. Cook and Kamara both have a similar impact on the Vikings and Saints, so it will be interesting to see how each player copes with the responsibility that comes with big money.

They should be able to take it in their stride thanks to their respective demeanor. This will grab the attention of players such as Derrick Henry who are still awaiting their payday, but each back who gets the big bucks in the coming months owes McCaffrey a substantial amount of gratitude.