We're all looking for something to keep us busy during quarantine. The Panthers and Christian McCaffrey
, it turns out, were using the downtime to work on a new contract.
And even with full social distancing undoubtedly in force, they came up with a doozy. In fact, it's a four-year extension worth $16 million a year, which makes McCaffrey the highest-paid back in the league.
previously held that claim with 14.5 million per year on the new four years of his extension with the Cowboys last fall.
In addition to securing one of their top players (2,392 combined yards from scrimmage last year), it’s also a statement of intent for a Panthers team largely viewed as rebuilding under their first year coach.
“To label him a tailback, that’s not respectful to him. He’s a tailback-slash-wideout. He can do it all -- returner,” Rhule said last week. “So I’m anxious to get him out there, I’m anxious to continue to build this thing around him. I think he’s going to be a special player for us.
"But contracts and all that stuff, Marty [Hurney, their General Manager], I know he handles those things.”
And handle it he did. With good reason.
Last season, McCaffrey joined Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig as the only players to total 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a season last year and is coming off back-to-back 100-plus catch seasons. He's generated a whopping 303 receptions in three seasons and Fantasy owners have been prime beneficiaries.
Not only did he rank in the top 20 an amazing 15 times
, but McCaffrey also scored 20-plus fantasy points 14 times. According to NFL.com, other back had more than seven.
McCaffrey also led the position in games with 25-plus fantasy point performances with 11.
Heading into 2020, McCaffrey is suddenly the face of the Panthers franchise and a worthy one at that. Even with the changes in Carolina under Rhule, McCaffrey should remain the focal point. While McCaffrey's workload -- he led all players with 403 touches last year, and only Elliott (736) has more over the last two seasons than McCaffrey (729) -- is a concern, McCaffrey hasn't missed a game yet in his career.
Beyond all that, McCaffrey is the only player with 2,500 rushing yards AND 2,500 receiving yards in his first 3 seasons. ... Ever.
An unguardable talent, McCaffrey tilts the field in his favor whenever he touches the ball and can't be blanketed in space. Believing he has a shot to bust the 1,000/1,000 barrier another time, especially if he has to carry Carolina's offense once again, is not a reach.
Now, with McCaffrey, wide receivers D.J. Moore
and Robby Anderson
, and new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
, the Panthers have a chance to have a competent offense.