Panthers Have 'No Intention' of Trading Christian McCaffrey Amid Rumors, GM Says

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 10, 2022

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey walks off the field after a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

Christian McCaffrey has struggled to stay on the field of late because of injuries, but the Carolina Panthers aren't ready to move him.

General manager Scott Fitterer said the NFC South team has "no intention at all" of trading the star running back, as relayed by David Newton of ESPN:

"There was a report back in November that we were actively trying to trade him, and I told him that was not true," Fitterer said. "What I did tell him was, 'Hey, listen, I'll take any call. Call and make any offer you want.'
"'That doesn't mean we'll do it. That doesn't mean we're shopping you.' I look at Christian as a foundation piece on this team. We're a better team when he's on the field. He's one of the elite players in the NFL."

Carolina went just 5-12 this season and failed to improve on the 2020 campaign's 5-11 mark.

Some of that can be traced back to the availability of McCaffrey, as he played a mere three games in 2020 and seven games this past season. He dealt with hamstring and ankle injuries in 2021, and the Panthers went 1-9 in games he didn't play. 

Head coach Matt Rhule suggested he would like to use his primary weapon in the slot more in 2022 but added doing so would be to "get a matchup" and not in an effort to prevent further injuries.

When healthy, there is little questioning McCaffrey as one of the best playmakers in the league.

He dazzled in 2019 with 1,387 rushing yards, 1,005 receiving yards and 19 total touchdowns as a versatile force who could burst through holes at the line of scrimmage and take advantage of mismatches against linebackers as a pass-catcher.

That made him a darling in the fantasy football community, but he has been unable to replicate such an impact the past two years.

Getting back to that would help Carolina as it looks to return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2017 campaign, and the front office isn't ready to move on from McCaffrey's potential with an offseason trade even if such a move could net an impressive return and further facilitate something of a rebuilding process.