Panthers Have Had 'Internal Discussions' About New Christian McCaffrey Contract

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2020

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey isn't set for unrestricted free agency until 2022, but the NFC South team has already held discussions about his future. 

"Obviously we've had internal discussions," general manager Matt Hurney said of McCaffrey's contract, per Steve Reed of the Associated Press. "Everybody knows what we think of Christian as a player."

There is an inherent risk in giving a running back a massive contract extension, especially in today's game that has deemphasized the position. The wear-and-tear of running between the tackles in the NFL also leads to greater risk of injury and shorter primes, but McCaffrey is far from an average playmaker at the position.

The 23-year-old is coming off his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro season that saw him run for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns. It was his second straight season with more than 1,000 rushing yards, but it was his ability to impact the game through the air that truly stood out.

The Stanford product tallied 116 catches for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns last year, marking his second straight campaign with more than 100 catches.

Getting McCaffrey out in space on passing plays has allowed the Panthers to prevent the same type of wear-and-tear that often plagues between-the-tackle runners and has showcased his remarkable skill set as he emerged as one of the best players in the entire league.

He is the surefire face of the franchise at this point now that Cam Newton is no longer on the roster, and the team is apparently preparing to pay him accordingly.

Another monster season will line him up for a significant payday, even at the running back position.