Christian McCaffrey

NFL Injury Notes: McCaffrey, Texans, Young, Brady, 49ers

Since signing a deal that gave him the highest average salary of any running back in the NFL, Christian McCaffrey has missed 23 of 33 games. From a high ankle sprain to a shoulder injury to a hamstring injury and back around to his ankle again, McCaffrey has seen more than his fair share of the injured reserve. According to Joseph Person of The Athletic, McCaffrey reached out for some help this offseason.

Among a few others, one of the players McCaffrey sought help from was Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, one of two players who share with McCaffrey the distinction of recording at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season, the other being Roger Craig. Faulk was especially healthy later in his career despite having a tendency for a higher amount of total touches as a receiving back, his late health being a trait that McCaffrey would love to emulate.

Person reports that Panthers head coach Matt Rhule indicated McCaffrey would again be held out of the preseason and that the team is also looking into how they use their star during practice. McCaffrey, himself, has been tweaking his own offseason routine, in hopes of reversing his string of bad luck.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL, starting with two out of the Lone Star State:

  • From an interview with Texans head coach Lovie Smith, Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports that pass rusher Jonathan Greenard and safety Eric Murray will be ready to return to the field by the time training camp rolls around. Greenard, who led the team in sacks last season with 8.0, underwent foot surgery over the offseason. Murray had shoulder surgery after starting 11 games for Houston last year.
  • The Commanders are expecting former Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young to rejoin the team in the next couple of weeks, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. The young defensive end is coming off an ACL tear he suffered in a Week 10 game against the Buccaneers. Young was having a bit of a sophomore slump last year, only recording 1.5 sacks in nine games of action, but Washington will nonetheless be happy to reunite him with Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, and Daron Payne in what may be the NFL’s best all-around pass rushing defensive line.
  • Although not a recent injury, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talked about the condition of his left knee in a call with Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times this week. Last offseason saw Brady limited a bit due to surgery he underwent to repair the MCL tear he suffered during his last season in New England. With the injury far in the rearview mirror, Brady has reportedly been doing much more to prepare for the upcoming season this summer, “including some sprint work to help with his mobility.”
  • Cam Inman of the East Bay Times reported an assertion from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan that San Francisco will likely play it safe and hold out tight end George Kittle and linebacker Fred Warner until training camp. About two of his stars, the sixth-year head coach claimed the team was “being smart” by using a little extra time to allow the two to get over their “lower half” issues.

This Date In Transactions History: Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey Signs Record-Breaking Deal

Today marks the two-year anniversary of Christian McCaffrey‘s four-year, $64MM extension with the Panthers. The deal included $36MM guaranteed, $30MM fully guaranteed, and made CMC the highest-paid running back in NFL history. 

[RELATED: CMC To Remain At RB]

McCaffrey and the Panthers had been discussing an extension for some time, even though the youngster was a long way from free agency. Elsewhere, the Panthers were in the midst of an overhaul, having bid farewell to head coach Ron Rivera, tight end Greg Olsen, one-time MVP quarterback Cam Newton, and other longtime figures. McCaffrey, of course, remained as a building block of the team’s future.

In September of 2019, Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott broke the RB record with a six-year, $90MM extension. CMC beat that $15MM AAV by a cool $1MM. More importantly, he landed his deal on a much shorter term. The Panthers standout would secure the bag in the near term and be able to do it all again in his prime.

Saints star Alvin Kamara would later threaten his mantle, but fall just short at $15MM per annum. McCaffrey, meanwhile, went on to play in a combined ten games over the next two seasons. That was a bummer for CMC, who had previously earned a First-Team All-Pro selection. And, even in a “down” ’19, McCaffrey still managed 1,387 rushing yards off of 287 carries for an average of 4.8 yards per tote. He also caught 116 passes for 1,005 yards through the air to finish the year with 19 total touchdowns.

The injuries even prompted the Panthers to consider a position change for their franchise RB. But, just a few weeks ago, head coach Matt Rhule confirmed that McCaffrey will remain in the backfield.

“We can always move him around and utilize him, but at the end of the day, he’s a back”, Rhule said. “You can do a lot of things with Christian, but to take him out of the backfield, to me, is taking him out of what he does best. We’ll keep him at tailback.”

As great as McCaffrey is, the Panthers’ offer was panned by many. Market-setting deals for running backs, like the four-year, $60MM deal Todd Gurley once had with the Rams, often go south. Gurley couldn’t stay healthy after putting pen to paper, and neither has CMC. At least, that’s been the case so far.

Panthers Keeping Christian McCaffrey At RB

When healthy, Christian McCaffrey has proven himself to be one of the most productive players in the league. Staying on the field has been an issue during the past two seasons, though, leading some to think that he would be better suited to line up as a slot receiver more frequently. McCaffrey himself has rebuffed such suggestions; head coach Matt Rhule recently did the same. 

[RELATED: Panthers Rework McCaffrey’s Contract]

As detailed by ESPN’s David Newton, Rhule confirmed that the team plans to keep the 25-year-old in his familiar running back spot, in spite of the workload he has shouldered and the injuries he has dealt with in recent years. McCaffrey has received 1,138 touches in his five seasons in the NFL – an average of 228 per season. With a full season in 2020 and 2021, those figures would have been significantly higher.

“We can always move him around and utilize him, but at the end of the day, he’s a back”, Rhule said. “You can do a lot of things with Christian, but to take him out of the backfield, to me, is taking him out of what he does best. We’ll keep him at tailback.”

The Panthers leaned heavily on rookie Chuba Hubbard in McCaffrey’s absence last season, and signed former Titan D’Onta Foreman in free agency. If healthy, though, the former All-Pro will of course take over as the starter again. Newton notes that new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo could use more two-RB formations, lending itself to McCaffrey being put in motion and/or the slot – something which he has very rarely done, despite his abilities as a pass-catcher.

Regardless of McAdoo’s scheme, or whom the Panthers’ QB will be in 2022, the team will carry on with the focal point of their offense in essentially the same way as they have for the rest of his career to date.

Panthers Rework RB Christian McCaffrey’s Contract

Christian McCaffrey has helped the Panthers open up some extra cap. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that the running back has agreed to a “simple restructure” of his contract. The move will open $5.5MM in cap space.

[RELATED: Panthers Listening On Christian McCaffrey Trade Calls]

McCaffrey’s contract furnishes him with $16MM/year on average, an all-time record for running backs. And, as the years go on, that cap hit escalates. This year, it’ll be a $14.3MM figure. In 2023 and 2024, he’s in line for cap hits of $17.7MM. It’s uncertain how the restructuring alters those numbers, but there’s a good chance McCaffrey still tops the position in earnings.

McCaffrey has been in the news this offseason for a (somewhat) surprising reason. We heard earlier this month that the All-Pro running back was generating trade interest, and we later learned that the front office was open to the right offer for the RB. The team was reportedly seeking a first-round pick and a cap-friendly contract, but McCaffrey‘s hefty contract would surely complicate any negotiations.

McCaffrey, 26 in June, has played just ten games over the past two seasons. Before the ankle and hamstring injuries, CMC was a 2019 All-Pro with an NFL-leading 2,392 scrimmage yards.

Panthers Listening On Christian McCaffrey Trade Calls

The Panthers aren’t necessarily shopping Christian McCaffrey, but they’re at least willing to listen. As the calls keep coming in, the Panthers are open to the right offer, according to league sources who spoke with David Newton of ESPN.com

[RELATED: Panthers Restructure Thompson’s Contract]

Newton hears that another team could pry the star running back away for a quality package, one that includes a first-round pick and a cap-friendly player. From a football perspective, that’s not a monumental ask. However, when considering CMC’s contract, that could be easier said than done.

McCaffrey’s contract furnishes him with $16MM/year on average, an all-time record for running backs. And, as the years go on, that cap hit escalates. This year, it’ll be a $14.3MM figure. In 2023 and 2024, he’s in line for cap hits of $17.7MM. The Panthers — currently projected to have $26.5MM in space — can afford to keep him, but they may prefer draft capital and flexibility instead.

McCaffrey, 26 in June, has played just ten games over the past two seasons. Before the ankle and hamstring injuries, CMC was a 2019 All-Pro with an NFL-leading 2,392 scrimmage yards.

Christian McCaffrey Drawing Trade Interest

Injuries have largely kept Christian McCaffrey off the field over the past two seasons, significantly limiting his production since the Panthers gave him a record-setting running back extension. Carolina was not believed to be interested in trading its starting back, but that has not stopped other teams from calling.

McCaffrey inquiries have come the Panthers’ way, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes the team would want a monster return for the talented dual-threat back. The Panthers would seek a first-round pick and another asset for McCaffrey, who four seasons remaining on his deal. CMC is attached to an $8.4MM base salary in 2022; his salaries jump past $11MM beginning in 2023.

While unrealistic, the Panthers’ ask makes sense due to how disadvantageous a trade would be for them financially. Unloading McCaffrey’s contract before June 1 would tag the Panthers with $18MM in dead money. A post-June 1 trade would at least save Carolina more than $8MM, but the Panthers would obviously be selling low given their star back’s past two seasons. Last year, the Panthers were not believed to have included McCaffrey in their Deshaun Watson talks.

McCaffrey, 26, has played just 10 games over the past two seasons. Ankle and hamstring injuries have disrupted the second-generation NFLer’s prime. An All-Pro season in which McCaffrey finished with an NFL-leading 2,392 scrimmage yards prompted Matt Rhule to greenlight that four-year, $64MM extension in 2020. That set the running back market. None of McCaffrey’s 2017 classmates or subsequent running back extension recipients have passed the $15MM-per-year threshold.

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/22/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list today. In some instances (including Christian McCaffrey and Travis Etienne), players activated from the list remain on IR:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Placed on list: T Le’Raven Clark

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Panthers Won’t Trade Christian McCaffrey

The league’s other 31 GMs will have to cross an item off of their holiday wishlist. The Panthers have no plans to trade Christian McCaffrey, according to a team source who spoke with Joseph Person of the Athletic

[RELATED: Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey Done For Year]

The running back was placed on IR after suffering a season-ending injury ankle injury in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. It marks McCaffrey’s second stint on IR this year, and the latest in a concerning trend regarding the 25-year-old’s ability to stay on the field. He missed all but three games in 2020 due to separate ankle, shoulder, and quad injuries meaning that the Panthers will have only had him available for ten of a possible 33 games in the last two campaigns.

The eighth overall pick in the 2017 draft, McCaffrey signed a four-year, $64MM extension in April 2020. Injuries had not been a cause for concern at the time, even going back to his time at Stanford. Now, however, his contract — which runs through 2025 with sizable cap hits — could hamper the Panthers if he can’t stay healthy.

For now, the Panthers will turn to rookie Chuba Hubbard as their lead back, starting with their Week 14 matchup against the Falcons.

Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey Done For Year

The Panthers have placed Christian McCaffrey on injured reserve, per a club announcement. Since this is his second trip to IR in 2021, the move will mark the end of the running back’s season. 

CMC previously missed five games with a hamstring injury. This time around, it’s an ankle injury that’ll require multiple months of rehab.

McCaffrey was forced out early yesterday as the Dolphins went on to win 33-10. The loss dropped them to 5-7 on the year, further crushing their slim odds of reaching the postseason.

The Panthers got off to a 3-0 start with McCaffrey in the lineup, then dropped four of five games without him. Even after his return, they’ve lost three of four contests, though the offense was clearly better with him in the backfield. His Week 10 showing performance against Arizona — 13 carries, ten catches, and 150+ all-purpose yards — propelled them to their only win in November.

Between the last two years, McCaffrey has appeared in just ten games for the Panthers. It’s hardly what anyone envisioned for CMC after he inked a $16MM-per-year extension in 2020. In 2019, his last healthy campaign, McCaffrey made a push for Chris Johnson‘s record with 2,392 scrimmage yards.

Now, his ’21 season will end with 442 rushing yards and one touchdown, plus 37 catches for 343 yards and one receiving TD across seven games. The Panthers will likely add another RB to the mix between now and their next game, a Dec. 12 matchup against the Falcons.

Panthers Activate Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey may be set to return after his latest lengthy absence. The All-Pro back is off the Panthers’ IR list and back on the team’s active roster.

It is not yet certain McCaffrey will be in uniform against the Patriots, with a pregame workout set to determine his status, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. But Carolina activating McCaffrey is obviously a good indicator of his status for Sunday’s game. The Panthers still had more than two weeks to bump CMC back to their active roster, having only designated him to return from IR on Wednesday.

The Panthers’ offense has largely struggled without its top player. After a 3-0 start with McCaffrey in uniform, the Panthers have lost four of their past five games since he went down in Week 3 with a hamstring injury. Carolina enters Week 9 26th in scoring, with Sam Darnold having taken significant steps back after a hot start.

McCaffrey has certainly struggled to stay on the field since signing his $16MM-per-year extension in 2020. A high ankle sprain limited the dual-threat dynamo to three games last season, and this hamstring ailment cost him five thus far this year. When last healthy over a full season, McCaffrey made a push for Chris Johnson‘s scrimmage yards record in 2019. He totaled 2,392 en route to his monster contract. This Panthers iteration stands to receive a major boost once the fifth-year star returns.

Regarding Darnold, the Panthers announced Saturday he cleared concussion protocol. Although that bodes well for his Week 9 status, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets Darnold remains a game-time decision due to the shoulder injury he also suffered against the Falcons. P.J. Walker has replaced Darnold in each of the Panthers’ past two games. The ex-XFL standout would get the call if the Panthers deemed Darnold a no-go.