Latest accolade increases Carolina Panthers' regret over major departure

The star has shone bright away from the Carolina Panthers.
Scott Fitterer
Scott Fitterer / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Fitterer made a lot of bad decisions during his time as Carolina Panthers general manager. The front-office leader couldn't bring his solid reputation for personnel evaluation to the top job. He eventually paid the price as team owner David Tepper pulled the plug on this experiment after one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

The Panthers developed a concerning habit of removing players in their prime from the equation under Fitterer's leadership. Considering they weren't blessed with much genuine quality beforehand, it wasn't surprising to see things descend into chaos as a result.

Trading Christian McCaffrey was the biggest bombshell. As another season spiraled into oblivion in 2022, Fitterer accepted what he believed was a decent offer from the San Francisco 49ers for the All-Pro running back. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but this was another grave error in judgment.

McCaffrey's shone while the Panthers descended to rock bottom. The former first-round pick remains one of the league's most dynamic offensive players. His latest accolade only heightens the sense of regret surrounding this transaction.

Carolina Panthers' regret over Christian McCaffrey trade increases

After plenty of speculation, McCaffrey was selected to become this year's Madden video game cover star. Something that left the dual-threat force feeling grateful for all the help he's received along the way based on comments via ESPN.

"It's really humbling. I feel really grateful because obviously stuff like this is a testament to my teammates, my coaches, people who have helped me be in the position to have success, and so I feel really grateful for that. This is such a cool milestone for me, and to be on the cover, I think of those people who have helped me along the way, and obviously being the first 49ers player is really humbling when you think about how many greats have played for this organization. Definitely feel very fortunate."

Christian McCaffrey via ESPN

The Panthers haven't been the same since McCaffrey departed. While there were concerns about injuries and rumors of the player wanting a fresh start, that cannot be disputed.

Carolina didn't do much with the compensation acquired from the McCaffrey deal, which makes things even worse. Good teams simply don't let franchise-caliber players depart willingly. The Stanford product was exactly that and is proving as much during a prolific spell in San Francisco up to now.

Fitterer was on the back foot from the moment he traded McCaffrey and turned down a whopping offer from the Los Angeles Rams for edge rusher Brian Burns. Once panic sets in, it doesn't long for the downward spiral to follow.

McCaffrey is a bona fide NFL star. The Panthers haven't had one since, although they are hoping quarterback Bryce Young can become their new beacon of hope with a more productive supporting cast in 2024 and beyond.

Some argue that shipping McCaffrey off to pastures new was the right call at the time. Others think the package received didn't match the exceptional attributes he brings to the table. As always, the truth is somewhere in between.

Fortunately for everyone associated with the Panthers, Fitterer is no longer around to mismanage established figures. Looking at the recent contract situation with stud defensive lineman Derrick Brown, it's not a mistake Dan Morgan plans to make as part of his grand plans to restore pride.