5 Panthers players who are the cornerstones of future success

(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) D.J. Moore
(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) D.J. Moore /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers RB

Even though Christian McCaffrey has been a relative afterthought given his injury problems this season, he remains not just a cornerstone of the Carolina Panthers, but his status as the face of the franchise is unquestioned.

The Panthers have really missed McCaffrey in the backfield during crucial moments in recent weeks. They’ve had a real chance to pick up some notable victories and not having the All-Pro available to carry the load has cost them in big moments.

Hopefully, for the player and the Panthers, McCaffrey will be able to return following their Week 13 bye after just missing out at the Minnesota Vikings with a shoulder problem.

This would be a massive boost as Carolina looks to salvage some semblance of respectability from the 2020 campaign during the remaining four games. But keeping the bigger picture in mind is something the coaching staff should also do with their prized possession when he steps onto the gridiron once again.

The former first-round pick has managed just 3.5 games this season after not missing any action since entering the league. McCaffrey signed a four-year, $64 million contract extension with a $21 million signing bonus and $38 million guaranteed before competitive action got underway, so Carolina will be looking for a substantial return from their investment in the coming years.

Judging by what we’ve seen from McCaffrey during his short career, there is nothing to suggest he isn’t more than capable of this.