Over his first three seasons in the league, Carolina Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey has emerged as one of the to most talented players. He has thrust himself into the conversation as arguably the best player at his position after coming off a career-best campaign. However, an underlying question around him is his long-term future with the franchise. Although that hasn’t been a point of discussion at this point, it’s something that the Panthers could address soon.
Christian McCaffrey’s NFL career
The conversation around McCaffrey when he entered the NFL had some concern over his ability to translate his collegiate success to the next level.
He has more than silenced those doubters as he has become one of the best talents in the league. McCaffrey is coming off a breakout campaign that earned him some strong consideration for the MVP award as he finished third with 1,387 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns along with being second with 116 receptions for 1,005 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
His 116 catches were the most ever for a running back, breaking his previous record last season (107). McCaffrey also became the first running back to post multiple 100-reception seasons, while his 2,392 total scrimmage yards are the most in Panthers history.
That saw him become just the third player to record at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards, joining Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk and former San Francisco 49ers great Roger Craig. McCaffrey hasn’t discussed his contract situation with the Panthers, but that is something that the team has taken a look into some greater detail.
Panthers talk about Christian McCaffrey’s contract
McCaffrey has been everything more and more that the Panthers had hoped for from the Stanford product.
The 23-year-old’s stellar production has put him in a unique spot heading into the final year of his four-year rookie deal. With that in mind, general manager Marty Hurney has addressed voicing that the team has already had internal discussions about working out a long-term extension, according to David Newton of ESPN.
Obviously, we’ve had internal discussions. Everybody knows what we think of Christian as a player. Other than that I can’t really say any more.’’ Doesn’t say a lot about what might happen.
It all but expected that the franchise will pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal to at least have him under for another season. The Panthers will likely move swiftly to hammer out a new deal for McCaffrey as he has become the focal point of their offense.
The only question that remains in that regard is how much the Panthers will be willing to shell out to the Pro Bowler to keep him for the long haul.
What will the Panthers pay Christian McCaffrey?
That will be the million-dollar question for the Panthers to work out with their star running back in the coming months.
Carolina clearly holds high value for what McCaffrey brings to the table out of the backfield. Health permitting, he has several highly productive campaigns ahead of him, which will be a point of emphasis from Carolina to get him under a multi-year deal.
The Panthers still have much time before that becomes a prominent topic of discussion as could in all likelihood allow him to play out his deal to play out to beyond the fifth-year of his rookie deal and then franchise tag him before the 2022 season.
At the same time, McCaffrey has more than earned the opportunity to cash in a significant way on his next deal that could make him the highest-paid running back in the league. Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl Ezekiel Elliott currently holds that honor as he’s making $15 million a year in his six-year, $90 million deal.
Although McCaffrey has many productive years ahead of him, the Panthers will likely want to avoid that type of financial commitment over that many seasons. Ultimately, the star running back has a significant payday ahead of him quite soon.