How bad could things get after Panthers trade Christian McCaffrey?

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /

How bad could things get for the Carolina Panthers after they decided to trade star running back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers?

The rumor mill was swirling at a rapid rate regarding Christian McCaffrey’s future with the Carolina Panthers. Talks of a potential trade gathered pace before a switch to the San Francisco 49ers was officially confirmed late on Thursday evening.

Carolina was reportedly asking for a king’s ransom from any team looking to land McCaffrey. Despite the team’s clear failure on offense in 2022, the All-Pro remains one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers and looks to be free of the injury struggles that restricted him to 10 games in the two seasons before this one.

Something had to give in this scenario. The Panthers are going nowhere fast this season even though they’ve fired Matt Rhule, so the important thing for the front office is accumulating enough draft capital and making their salary-cap situation more enticing for a new head coach to work with.

McCaffrey didn’t command the first-round selections Carolina was said to be looking for. However, San Francisco coughed up second, third, and fourth-round selections this yea, in addition to a 2024 fifth-rounder to further sweeten the deal.

Christian McCaffrey will be sorely missed by the Carolina Panthers

According to Molly Cotten of 730 The Game ESPN Charlotte and Aaron Wilson of the Pro Football Network, something was imminent in the hours leading up to the deal. When asked about the ongoing speculation regarding his future, McCaffrey was taking everything in his stride and letting the chips fall where they may en route to a Bay Area return and reuniting with Kyle Shanahan, one-time babysitter and now his new head coach.

"“[I’m] keeping that away from me. That’s out of my control. I’m trying to control everything I can control, and that’s having a great meeting here next. Right now I’m a Carolina Panther and I’m giving my all to this place. If they keep me in the loop, great. If not, it doesn’t matter. Like I said, to me, I’m focused on playing against the Bucs this week right now. And I’m doing everything I can to prepare for that game.”"

Carolina’s fanbase was pretty divided on this potential move coming to fruition. Some wanted McCaffrey to stay given his elite talent, while others demanded to get a lofty contract off the books and focus on the future.

It was a tricky one, for sure. That’s why it’s vital those in power maximized their return if McCaffrey did end up leaving for pastures new, which proved to be the case.

Who won the trade is irrelevant. Executing the next stage of the plan is of critical importance and should be the only thing that matters right now.

Just how bad the offense will be without McCaffrey doesn’t bare contemplating, in all honesty.

Ben McAdoo’s scheme is not fit for purpose and everyone – including the former Stanford star – is suffering as a result. Now Carolina’s one stable weapon has departed, moving the football becomes an almost impossible proposition unless serious adjustments are made.

McAdoo remains defiant in the face of increased scrutiny. But there is now a big enough sample size to suggest this appointment was yet another massive error in judgment from the Panthers and now McCaffrey is gone, one could make a strong case for the No. 1 overall selection being locked up, too.

There is a terrible mess that needs to be cleaned up following Rhule’s disastrous tenure with the franchise. Removing the likes of McCaffrey, Robbie Anderson, and potentially others is necessary for a sustainable future.

This represents short-term agony for what will hopefully be long-term gain. Players with McCaffrey’s skill set don’t grow on trees, but there are some nice running backs entering the league from the college ranks in 2023 that would be much cheaper solutions.

It was supposed to be the season everything clicked for Carolina. Instead, things are worse than ever, and trading away their top stars represents the proverbial waving of the white flag despite being just two games back in the NFC South, unbelievably.

McCaffrey deserves better, too. He’s given his all for the franchise since arriving as a first-round pick in 2017, so even though it would probably sting, that won’t last long once he links up with Shanahan on a team that looks primed to contend even without the services of quarterback Trey Lance.

Fans love McCaffrey, and rightfully so. But the NFL is a business and trading him means they get to build around their impressive young core, although the vultures are no doubt waiting to see which players become available next.

The Panthers trading McCaffrey represents another talent wasted. This a major sign of how things are currently unfolding within an organization that could be set to enter some dreadful times without its best weapon for the remainder of 2022.

Related Story. 3 scenarios that could see Carolina Panthers trade Christian McCaffrey. light