After playing in all of 10 games over the past two seasons, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has remained healthy in 2022 (fingers crossed).
In doing so, the former All-Pro back has returned to earlier career-form as a dynamic dual-threat. Unfortunately for Carolina, it sits at 1-3 and is one of the worst teams in the NFL. Having a running back of this ilk not only wastes his prime, it does very little when it comes to long-term success for the team.
Regardless of the future of head coach Matt Rhule in Carolina, the Panthers must consider selling high on McCaffrey ahead of the November NFL trade deadline. With that in mind, we look at five ideal destinations for the All-Pro back.
Buffalo Bills land star running back
Here’s something to look at. Through the first four weeks of the 2022 season, Josh Allen is once again Buffalo leading rusher. Rookie second-round pick James Cook has tallied all of 58 yards. RB1 Devin Singletary has struggled to the tune of 3.8 yards per attempt.
Buffalo rightfully fancies itself as a top-end Super Bowl contender. It’s looked the part through four weeks. Right now, it’s time for general manager Brandon Beane to get cooking and provide Allen with some sense of balance on offense. McCaffrey’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (376 career receptions) would also add to an elite group of pass catchers in Buffalo, led by Stefon Diggs. Buffalo can afford to offer up a first-round pick or multiple Day 2 selections to make this work.
Ron Rivera reunites with old friend in Washington
We know the story surrounding Antonio Gibson. He fell into head coach Ron Rivera’s dog house due to preseason fumble issues. While Gibson has taken on a larger role due to the unforeseen absence of rookie Brian Robinson, Washington’s offense continues to lack elite-level skill-position players. It has had a direct impact on struggling quarterback Carson Wentz, who has been sacked a league-high 17 times in four games.
Enter into the equation a back in McCaffrey who played under Rivera in Carolina from 2017-19. The veteran absolutely dominated during that three-year span to open his career.
- Christian McCaffrey stats (2017-19): 2,920 rushing yards, 303 receptions, 2,523 yards, 5,443 total yards, 5.9 yards per touch, 39 touchdowns
Whether Rivera is on the hot seat remains to be seen. It’s also not known if Washington’s brass would use the necessary draft and financial capital to acquire McCaffrey. What we do know is that the status quo is not working in Maryland. McCaffrey would change that big time.
Denver Broncos add Christian McCaffrey to the mix
The season-ending ACL tear stud young running back Javonte Williams suffered in Week 4 has placed Denver behind the proverbial eight-ball. The team has struggled to a 2-2 start to the season despite the presence of future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson.
As for the Broncos’ rushing attack, veteran Melvin Gordon has dealt with some major fumble issues recently (four in as many games this season). It has led to Denver pulling him from games altogether in an attempt to get it right. The recently signed Latavius Murray and veteran Mike Boone don’t inspire too much confidence, either.
While Denver yielded a ton of draft capital to acquire Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks this past offseason, it has to make a move to help the regressed signal caller. Even if it means offering up multiple Day 2 picks and a young player, McCaffrey would change the dynamics in the Mile High City.
Kyle Shanahan gets his running back in San Francisco
We know that Kyle Shanahan can get water from a rock at the running back position. Too often, undrafted free agents have done their thing under him. With Elijah Mitchell sidelined to injury, that has been the case surrounding Jeff Wilson. The veteran has gained 233 rushing yards at a clip of 4.9 yards over the past three games.
With that said, San Francisco’s injuries at running back could end up impacting a limited Jimmy Garoppolo on offense. Despite San Francisco’s blowout Week 4 win over the defending champion Los Angeles Rams, this is an area that general manager John Lynch and Co. might need to address.
The issue as it relates to potentially acquiring McCaffrey is both his bloated contract and the 49ers’ lack of draft capital given what they yielded to trade up for Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft.
- Christian McCaffrey contract: 4 years, $64 million; $19.55 million cap hit in 2023
McCaffrey might have to redo his deal for something to come to fruition on this end. Even then, the idea of teaming him up with all-world playmaker Deebo Samuel on the 49ers’ offense could make this team the legitimate favorite to come out of the NFC.
Related: Updated 2022 NFL standings
Christian McCaffrey provides defending champions with dual threat
Los Angeles’ running back situation has been about as bad as Matthew Stafford’s performance under center for the defending champions. Cam Akers is a shell of his pre-injury self (3.1 yards per carry in 2022). RB1 Darrell Henderson has put up all of 44 rushing yards over the past two games.
In the process, Stafford has found himself sacked a resounding 16 times in four games. He also leads the NFL interceptions with six and is coming off a terrible Week 4 performance against the aforementioned 49ers.
We know that Rams general manager Les Snead is not afraid to give up future draft capital for immediate upgrades. It has defined his tenure in Southern California. Why not go back to the well once more and find that true missing link on offense? It just makes too much sense to add Christian McCaffrey to the mix, no matter the long-term ramifications.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.