Christian McCaffrey Trade Rumors: Panthers Willing to 'Listen to Offers' for Star RB

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 7, 2022

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) warms up before an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

The Carolina Panthers will reportedly be willing to "listen to offers" on a potential blockbuster trade involving running back Christian McCaffrey during the 2022 NFL offseason.

Joseph Person of The Athletic reported the news Friday, but noted it's "hard to imagine" the Panthers would be offered fair-market value given McCaffrey's recent injury history and the $44 million remaining on his four-year contract.

Carolina selected the Stanford product with the No. 8 pick in the 2017 draft, and he was one of the NFL's most dynamic playmakers across his first three pro seasons. His 5,443 yards from scrimmage from 2017 through 2019 led the league, and he scored 39 total touchdowns over that span.

He's played just 10 games since signing the contract in April 2020 that made him the highest-paid running back in NFL history, though.

McCaffrey was limited to three appearances last season because of ankle and shoulder injuries. He returned for the start of the 2021 campaign but suffered a hamstring injury that caused him to miss two games followed by a season-ending ankle injury.

In October, the 25-year-old Colorado native said the injury issues over the past few years wouldn't impact his play style.

"I play full speed all the time," McCaffrey told reporters.

The Panthers could have asked for a king's ransom in return for McCaffrey a few years ago, but that's no longer the case. His trade value has never been lower than it is right now.

He's still been productive when healthy, averaging 112.1 yards from scrimmage in seven games this season, and he's under contract through 2025, so the front office's best bet is keeping him on the roster with hope of a resurgent 2022 campaign.

Carolina also isn't in desperate need of cap space with a projected $28.6 million available for 2022 heading into the offseason, per Spotrac.

The Panthers are eliminated from playoff contention with a 5-11 record heading into Sunday's regular-season finale against the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A lot of roster changes are likely on the horizon in the offseason, starting with trying to find a new franchise quarterback, but a McCaffrey trade would come as a surprise.