4 ways the Carolina Panthers can create more salary-cap space

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Restructure Christian McCaffrey

The Carolina Panthers were well within the right to give Christian McCaffrey a four-year, $64 million deal with a $21 million signing bonus and $38 million guaranteed last year. This was a man who became only the third running back in NFL history to achieve 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, with the All-Pro’s durability enabling him to not miss a game over his first three years as a professional.

However, what came next was not what anybody anticipated.

McCaffrey was only able to compete in three games in 2021 as ankle, shoulder, and quad problems forced him to miss most of the campaign. His production was still of an extremely high standard when the former Stanford star was in the lineup, but the situation only highlighted the potential dangers that come with paying players at the position.

Hopefully, for McCaffrey and the Panthers, this was just a bump in the road and normal service can resume next time around.

He’s still one of the best dual-threat backs in the league at the top of his game. So having the current face of the franchise firing on all cylinders could make all the difference.

If the Panthers want to generate some extra resources ahead of free agency, then perhaps a slight restructure of McCaffrey’s deal is worth considering.

After all, the player just wants to be on a winning team heading into his prime years. If that means a few tweaks to the deal he signed prior to the 2020 campaign, then so be it.