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Star Running Back Christian McCaffrey Traded To Playoff Contender In Blockbuster Deal

Carolina Panther running back Christian McCaffrey, the versatile backfield complement that can smash through defensive lines as easily as he can run downfield to catch a pass, was traded this week to the San Francisco 49ers in a deal which will shake up the league.

In exchange for giving up the young, talented back, the Panthers will receive a spate of high draft picks. Over the next two years, they will have a second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-round pick. McCaffrey teams up with Jimmy Garapolo, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and the rest of a capable 49ers team with high expectations to make it deep into the playoffs.

In a statement made shortly after the trade, the Panthers organization explained their rationale and 

The Panthers made a move for the future late Thursday night, trading running back Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers, pending a physical.

For the Panthers, the move offers the opportunity to help in 2023 and beyond, adding draft inventory for the offseason as they look to build on a core of young players on defense.

McCaffrey, the 2017 first-round pick, was one of the league’s brightest stars during his first three seasons. He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,392 in 2019, running for a career-best 1,387 yards and adding another 1,005 receiving that year.

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The Panthers currently have D’Onta Foreman, Chuba Hubbard, and Raheem Blackshear on the roster at running back, and just brought Spencer Brown back to the practice squad this week.

While each of those backs might ably step into the role, it seems unlikely they could replicate the playmaking of the uniquely-talented McCaffrey. 

Understandably, comments about the news tended toward outrage from the fanbase. Some users replied:

I don’t even have words. David Tepper, you’re a joke. Good luck finding another face for this franchise that’s even half the player CMC is.

Tanking the season for future picks that MIGHT make the team better is not a good look.  You want fans to show up and YOU  trade one of the FANS favorite players?  Really?  Sunday you shall see the stadium turn RED! Keep….nevermind…..PSL owners should get a refund!

Don’t worry guys, we can rely on PJ Walker and Chuba Hubbard!!!!

At the same time, several comments recognized that this season was probably lost before it began. The Panthers caught lightning in a bottle with a young Cam Newton during their singular run to the Super Bowl – in which they got lit up – and never regained their form. Newton fizzled out and the team lost other key players to retirement. Baker Mayfield, while capable, has never lived up to his Heisman hype and relocating to the east coast from Cleveland clearly didn’t work.

Giants fan here. Tbh I’m not sure what you’re sad about. Yes losing cmc sucks but you weren’t gonna win a tone of games with him anyway. The cap space you’ve saved, the draft capitol you’ve got, is perfect to go into a full rebuild now. Which y’all rly need

Would’ve been the same with or without him… this team is awful. When your team stinks so bad you have to trade your best player to start a rebuild. No point of having a RB on a team that’s gonna be bad for at least 2 more yrs minimum, not to mention RB is the easiest to replace

McCaffrey is in the first year of a gargantuan $64 million contract and with few prospects to take advantage of talents, it might make more sense to rebuild with freed-up cap space.