Carolina Panthers lambasted for Christian McCaffrey contract
Debates continue to rage across the NFL landscape about the current running back predicament. There is a growing trend around the league to avoid paying those finishing their rookie contracts, which was highlighted by the fact Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard didn't receive long-term deals before the franchise tag deadline.
The Carolina Panthers bucked the trend somewhat by giving Miles Sanders decent money long-term in free agency. But it was their decision to hand Christian McCaffrey a megabucks deal that came in for criticism recently.
When looking at McCaffrey's deal and what came after, Doug Clawson from CBS Sports gave the Panthers an F grade for the contract. Something that represented a historic sum and was swiftly followed by a series of injury complications before the All-Pro was traded to the San Francisco 49ers.
"[Christian] McCaffrey gets an F from the perspective of the Panthers after signing a deal that made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL ($16 million per season). He missed 23 of 33 games in the first two years of the deal from 2020 to 2021, and Carolina was actually better after trading him in 2022 with a RB timeshare of D'Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard. Carolina at least parlayed his hot start in 2022 to a second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-round pick from the 49ers, but CMC still costs $18.3 million against the Panthers' 2023 cap. McCaffrey returned to superstar form in 2022 and looked like he could carry San Francisco to a Super Bowl, but they also didn't give him his long-term deal."- Doug Clawson, CBS Sports
McCaffrey landed in a good spot and the Panthers are probably better off long-term without him. Especially considering the Bryce Young trade-up doesn't happen without shipping off the Stanford product to the California sunshine.