The running back position is a dying asset in the NFL right now. Paying big money for the position almost always proves to be a mistake. Look no further than the Carolina Panthers.
McCaffrey has played in just 10 games over the past two seasons due to injuries. He'll count $14 million against the cap next season. Is he worth keeping around? Probably not for a team in a rebuilding phase.
McCaffrey has heard the trade rumors all season long, but he's not going to be paying any attention to them. He wants to stick it out in Carolina.
“All that stuff is for the birds," McCaffrey said of the rumors. "I don’t really pay attention to any of that stuff. I love Charlotte. I love the Panthers. I want to do it here.”
If you have the right scheme, any draftable running can step in and get the job done in most instances. Take the 49ers as example.
The 49ers drafted Elijah Mitchell in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He's started in place of injured, veteran backs. The Niners haven't skipped a beat.
Replacing Christian McCaffrey wouldn't be as easy, of course. He's a generational talent. But keeping him around for the 2022 season doesn't make much sense for a rebuilding team like the Panthers.