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To say Christian McCaffrey is having a good year doesn’t do it justice. A couple of months ago the Carolina Panthers star received a contract extension and became the highest-paid NFL running back. Earlier this week it was revealed that McCaffrey’s girlfriend Olivia Culpo would be on the cover of next week’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Now, McCaffrey has been named as the top back in the upcoming Madden NFL 21 with a rare season-opening 99 rating.  

Christian McCaffrey’s impressive young career

Coming out of Stanford, there were high expectations for Christian McCaffrey. He was a star with the Cardinal where he rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2015 and 1,600 yards in 2016. He was a sure bet to go early in the 2017 NFL draft and the Carolina Panthers made it happen, selecting him in the eighth spot of the first round. 

Since joining the Panthers, McCaffrey has proven his worth as a high first-round pick. In McCaffrey’s rookie season, his time was limited but he did manage to rush for a couple of touchdowns and haul in five touchdown receptions through the air. It was a precursor of things to come.

In 2018, McCaffrey started all 16 games and rushed for 1,098 yards on just 219 carries — a healthy 5.0 yards per tote. Building on his rookie season’s scoring totals, he rushed for seven touchdowns and hauled in six touchdown receptions.

Christian McCaffrey established himself in 2019 as one of the NFL’s best running backs. The third-year back averaged 4.8 yards per carry, and more impressively, gained 1,387 yards on the ground while scoring 15 touchdowns. He also hauled in four touchdown catches and had a total of 1,005 receiving yards. 

Christian McCaffrey sets NFL records in 2019 and gets paid

Christian McCaffrey’s 2019 season was by far the best in his young NFL career. But it wasn’t just good, it was record-setting. McCaffrey set numerous franchise and NFL records throughout the 2019 campaign.

He became just the third player in NFL history to finish with over 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards, joining Roger Craig (1985) and Marshall Faulk (1999). He finished the season with an NFL-record 116 catches, which topped his own record of 109 from the year before. He finished the season with a league-best 2,392 scrimmage yards, which is third-most in one season in NFL history. 

For his record-setting efforts, the Panthers and Christian McCaffrey agreed to a four-year contract extension through 2025, making him the highest-paid NFL running back earning $16 million per season.    

McCaffrey receives rare 99 rating in Madden 21

Last season as Christian McCaffrey’s numbers mounted, so did his Madden rating. He started the season at 91. During the season’s first three weeks, that number remained unchanged. Then, in Week 4, his rating started a steady ascent. By Week 9, McCaffrey was at a 96. Three weeks later, he reached 99 and stayed there the remainder of the season.

With Madden 21, McCaffrey starts the season with that same 99 rating and becomes the first running back to earn that rating since Adrian Peterson did it in Madden 25 back in 2013. McCaffrey stands atop the running backs ahead of Derrick Henry (93), who led the league in rushing with 1,540 yards, and Nick Chubb and Ezekiel Elliott, who both tied for third with a 92 rating. 

It will be interesting to see if Christian McCaffrey can maintain his top rating throughout the 2020 season, but based on the impressive numbers he’s put up in just three short years, we should expect to see the dual-threat running back remain near the top not just next year, but for years to come.