D’Onta Foreman is 154 yards away from a 1,000-yard season, reaching this point despite spending the first third of the season as a seldom-used Christian McCaffrey backup. The former third-round pick who nearly wound up out of football early should attract more free agency interest this year.
But the recently promoted running back would prefer to re-sign with the Panthers and continue his Charlotte momentum. Foreman’s current deal — a one-year, $2MM pact — expires in March. The Panthers hold exclusive negotiating rights until the legal tampering period.
“That’s where my heart is. I’ve always wanted a place to call home and be comfortable,” Foreman said, via The Athletic’s Joe Person (subscription required), of staying with Carolina. “And I feel like this is the first opportunity I’ve had where I feel like this could be my home; this could be the place for me. I just hope it works out like that.”
Although the Panthers chose Chuba Hubbard in last year’s fourth round, they have used Foreman far more often since McCaffrey’s exit. Hubbard missed some time with injury, but he enters Week 18 with 397 rushing yards. Foreman’s 846 tops his previous career-high — set during his 2021 fill-in gig in Tennessee, following Derrick Henry‘s injury — of 566. This comes after he totaled just 12 carries in the Panthers’ first six games.
Post-McCaffrey, Carolina’s run game has functioned well. Foreman’s 165 yards against the Lions keyed a franchise-record 320-yard Panthers rushing day. For a team that rostered Cam Newton and deployed the DeAngelo Williams–Jonathan Stewart tandem, that is quite an accomplishment.
The Panthers have Hubbard and rookie Raheem Blackshear on rookie deals through 2024 and 2025, respectively. Moving on from Foreman would be a way to cut costs. Even on what promises to be a buyer’s market, Foreman should command a contract well north of his 2022 payrate. Carolina ranks 12th in rushing, and Foreman has posted five 100-yard games since taking over for McCaffrey. Teams have been monitoring him as a free agent target.
Foreman, 26, operates as a between-the-tackles power back, contributing little as a receiver (five catches, 26 yards). That will limit his value on a market that also stands to feature most of this contingent: Kareem Hunt, Miles Sanders, Tony Pollard, Jamaal Williams, Devin Singletary, David Montgomery and Damien Harris. Even with Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs staring at the franchise tag, there should be plenty of starter-level backs for teams to target. One boon for Foreman: his 431 career carries. Thanks to taking just 29 handoffs from 2018-20, the former Texas Longhorn will generate more interest than he would were he a 2017 draftee coming off six full seasons.