Why is Christian McCaffrey fighting so hard to come back?

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /
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Christian McCaffrey
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

The impact of Christian McCaffrey’s return

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Carolina Panthers have missed Christian McCaffrey. They are 0-8 on game-winning or tying drives this season and this statistic would probably look far better had the 2017 first-round pick in the backfield more consistently.

Putting McCaffrey into the lineup at this stage might do more harm than good.

For a number of reasons.

Firstly, with McCaffrey suffering so many injury problems this season, there is every chance he won’t be at 100 percent even when he does take the field. This is simply a risk not worth taking and head coach Matt Rhule would be wise to look at the bigger picture rather than bowing to the player’s will.

Secondly, the Panthers look set for a high-end 2021 NFL Draft pick, which could be as high as No. 3 overall if results go their way over the remaining two games. This would be a significant boost to their offseason plans and although tanking is rarely an option for players fighting for their futures on the field, their draft stock could deteriorate if McCaffrey comes back.

Third – and perhaps most important – is the need for roleplayers to see some increased minutes. Rhule will never get a better chance to see what unproven roster members can do in a competitive contest and McCaffrey taking up the lion’s share of touches would jeopardize this significantly.

McCaffrey is highly competitive, so he’ll want to be out there at the earliest possible opportunity. However, there is more at stake than just one player’s desire at this point of the campaign.