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Report: Christian McCaffrey, Panthers Agree to 4-Year, $64M Contract Extension

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2020

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 29: Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers before their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have agreed to a four-year, $64 million extension with star running back Christian McCaffrey, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

"I'm so excited to continue my career in Carolina," McCaffrey said of the deal, per Schefter. "I want to thank Mr. Tepper, Marty Hurney, and Coach Rhule for the opportunity to help lead this great franchise, and to all my teammates for their help along the way. And to Panthers fans, KEEP POUNDING!"

McCaffrey ran for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns while catching 116 passes for 1,005 yards and four scores in 2019.

The 23-year-old has undoubtedly earned a pay raise based on his production since the Panthers selected him eighth overall in the 2017 draft.

Field Yates @FieldYates

Christian McCaffrey through three seasons: ▫️2,920 rushing yards (5th most in NFL) ▫️Two 1,000-yard rushing seasons ▫️303 catches (2nd most EVER by any player) ▫️1 of 3 players EVER with a 1K rushing & receiving yard season ▫️2,523 receiving yards (most ever by a RB) ▫️2X All Pro

James Palmer @JamesPalmerTV

Christian McCaffrey 2019 Season NFL Rank Touches 403 1st Receptions 116 >1st Receiving Yards 1,005 >1st Scrimmage Yards 2,392 1st Scrimmage TD 19 T-1st > Among RBs

Speaking with reporters last week, head coach Matt Rhule called McCaffrey "a centerpiece player that you can build around."

NFL Network's Bucky Brooks argued McCaffrey's value as a pass-catcher outweighs the risk associated with giving big money to running backs:

Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks

I know this will make the “don’t pay the RB” crowd lose their minds. However, McCaffrey (and Kamara) should age gracefully at the position because their A+ pass catchers. They can make their mark in the passing game and tally significant scrimmage yards. https://t.co/g1BgR4FaLD

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Still, it's hard not to compare the timing of this extension with Todd Gurley II's rapid downfall out West.

Warren Sharp @SharpFootball

NFL hasn't been kind to RBs signing multi-yr extensions that avg'd > $10M per yr, since 2012: ► 4 RBs ► All 4 cut/traded before end of deal • Marshawn: traded after yr 1 • Peterson: cut after yr 2 • Johnson: traded after yr 2 • Gurley: cut after yr 2 Zeke, McCaffrey TBD

Gurley signed a four-year, $60 million extension with the Los Angeles Rams in July 2018. Halfway through the deal, the Rams decided they'd rather eat $20.15 million in dead money rather than keep Gurley on the roster. His 857 rushing yards in 2019 were a career low, and his 3.8 yards per carry were his second-worst to date.

Granted, Gurley tore his ACL in college and entered the NFL with questions about his long-term durability, which doesn't apply to McCaffrey.

Still, McCaffrey's 403 touches were the highest in the NFL in 2019, and the Panthers will probably continue to lean on him heavily in 2020 as they head into Teddy Bridgewater's first season as the starting quarterback.

Perhaps this offers a sign as to how Carolina plans to use the All-Pro. Adding another running back in the draft would allow the team to alleviate some of the burden on McCaffrey.

As much as he's the engine of the offense, his record-breaking contract means the Panthers also have to start considering the bigger picture, too.

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