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Despite injuries, Carolina Panthers have no plans to trade Christian McCaffrey

Andrew Buller-Russ

For the first three seasons of his NFL career, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey was seen as one of the best backfield options in the league. Two consecutive years topping 1,000 yards from scrimmage and then a 2019 Pro Bowl season that saw him lead the NFL with 2,392 yards catapulted him into elite status.

It stands to reason, if McCaffrey were to become available via trade, several franchises would express some form of interest. However, the Panthers are also making it known they have “no plans” to trade their star running back.

CMC’s injury history, cause for concern?

NFL: Washington Football Team at Carolina Panthers
Nov 21, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs as Washington Football Team free safety Kamren Curl (31) defends in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Notably, CMC also led the NFL with 403 touches in 2019, which now may be coming back to haunt the son of former Denver Broncos Super Bowl Champ Ed McCaffrey. Unfortunately, the All-Pro halfback has only played in a total of ten games the past two seasons. The worst part is CMC has suffered a season-ending injury in each of the past two campaigns, including for the rest of 2021.

While both his season-ending injuries shouldn’t impact his future durability, it highlights why so many NFL organizations are hesitant to shell out the big bucks to running backs.

In April of 2020, the Panthers signed McCaffrey to a four-year, $64-million extension. He’s played just ten games since.

Back in 2017, when then-Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman made the decision to select Christian McCaffrey eighth overall, it was seen as a surprise. Let’s not get it twisted, CMC was incredible for three seasons, but take a gander at the top-five rushing leaders in the NFL right now.

1. Jonathan Taylor – 1,205 yards
2. Derrick Henry – 937 yards
3. Joe Mixon – 924 yards
4. Nick Chubb – 867 yards
5. Dalvin Cook – 773 yards
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

Not a single one was selected in the first round.

Carolina Panthers not ready to hit reset button with Christian McCaffrey trade

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Panthers are hesitant to trade their face of the franchise and the team’s best offensive player. McCaffrey, when healthy is still a very effective player, and he’s proved that this season, by averaging 112.1 yards from scrimmage across seven games.

McCaffrey is currently the fifth-highest paid RB in the NFL. If he can’t find a way to avoid the debilitating injuries that keep him sidelined, it’s hard to justify paying CMC as a top earner at his position, which is why the trade rumors have popped up. Teams are hoping to buy low, acquiring McCaffrey for a fraction of the cost, but if The Athletic’s Joseph Person’s sources are being truthful, it won’t happen this offseason.

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