The insanely turbulent season Carolina Panthers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey has gone through is officially over. He's heading to injured reserve for the second time, ending his 2021 campaign.
Injuries have limited McCaffrey to just seven games this season. He hasn't been able to do much when healthy either, rushing for 442 yards and one touchdown.
McCaffrey didn't miss a single game during his first three seasons, and he became the third player in NFL history with 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season in 2019. Since then though, he's played in just 10 games.
Panthers fans are understandably distraught. Fantasy football owners (many of whom took McCaffrey first overall) are bitter too. Still others lament that McCaffrey is yet another uber-talented running back who can't shake the injury bug:
The Carolina Panthers are just 5-7 right now and have lost seven of their last 10 games. In that span they've gone through three different starting quarterbacks due to injuries and poor play.
What started as a turnaround year after last season's 5-11 rebuild is rapidly becoming a throwaway year.
But the Panthers' long-term plans might also be in jeopardy if McCaffrey can't get healthy. He makes up a huge portion of their salary cap over the next few years too.
Carolina play the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14 after their upcoming bye. A lot of changes could be made by the time they return to Bank of America Stadium.
Will Christian McCaffrey ever be an elite player again?