D’Onta Foreman

Browns To Sign RB D’Onta Foreman

As Nick Chubb goes through ACL rehab, the Browns have Kareem Hunt unsigned. The team will still move to add some veteran insurance as ahead of Chubb’s seventh season.

They are signing D’Onta Foreman, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets. Foreman has bounced around the league over the past three years, but the former third-round pick has remained a key backfield cog in that span. The former Titans, Panthers and Bears contributor is now coming to Cleveland. Foreman will rejoin ex-Panthers RBs coach Duce Staley in Cleveland.

This news comes not too long after it was believed the Browns were leaning against making a notable adjustment to their backfield. But the team has brought in two veteran pieces now. Last week, Cleveland added pass-down back and return specialist Nyheim Hines. Jerome Ford and 2023 trade acquisition Pierre Strong remain under contract, crowding Cleveland’s RB corps.

Out of the NFL for a stretch in the late 2010s, Foreman has taken a lead role in a few backfields since re-emerging. Derrick Henry‘s 2021 foot fracture led to the Titans eventually turning to Foreman as his replacement. The Panthers’ trade of Christian McCaffrey moved Foreman from little-used backup to regular starter. Foreman, 27, did not see the same usage with the Bears. But he started eight games, playing a regular role in a three-headed Chicago backfield.

Not much of a passing-down presence, the 235-pound back profiles as a Chubb backup plan. The Browns used Ford in that role alongside Hunt last season; the team ranked 12th in rushing, seeing Ford total 1,132 scrimmage yards. More competition appears on tap here, though the Browns ideally would have Foreman and Ford jockeying for RB2 work. Chubb has undergone two surgeries, but he and the Browns are expected to discuss an extension soon.

One season — at an $11.78MM base salary — remains on Chubb’s contract, which calls for a $15.8MM cap number. An extension would reduce that figure, but the Browns will presumably want assurances Chubb is on track to full recovery before authorizing such a deal. So far, the perennial Pro Bowler is on course to return. Though, the Browns feeling the need to add Foreman does make this situation one to monitor a bit more closely.

Foreman impressed in Tennessee and Charlotte, helping the Titans stay afloat en route to a No. 1 seed and then nearly pushing a Steve Wilks-led Panthers squad to an unlikely playoff berth. Foreman totaled five 100-yard rushing games as a Panther, despite seeing only 12 carries during McCaffrey’s half-season in Charlotte. He finished with 914 yards that year, which came off a 2021 season in which the Texas alum produced three 100-yard rushing days despite the Titans initially trying Adrian Peterson as their Henry replacement.

Foreman’s effectiveness as a fill-in has not brought much in the way of earnings, but he has continued to generate free agency interest. Accumulating just 29 carries from 2018-20, Foreman has just 552 totes in his career. He should remain fairly fresh as the Browns fortify their Chubb complementary contingent.

Bears RB Khalil Herbert To Miss Multiple Weeks; Team Signs Darrynton Evans

The Bears’ resounding Thursday night win against the Commanders, which broke Chicago’s 14-game losing streak, came with a price. As Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports, running back Khalil Herbert will miss multiple weeks after suffering an ankle injury in the victory over Washington. Per Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, Herbert sustained a high ankle sprain and could land on injured reserve.

While Herbert’s rushing attempts this year have been somewhat limited by game script and the fact that quarterback Justin Fields carries the ball a great deal, he has played at a high level. He has 272 rushing yards on 51 carries — good for a strong 5.3 yards-per-carry average — and has added 10 catches for 83 yards and a score. The Bears’ offense came to life against the Broncos and Commanders over the past two games, and Herbert has performed especially well in both contests. In Chicago’s narrow loss to Denver in Week 4, the 2021 sixth-rounder recorded 18 carries for 103 yards and added four catches for 19 yards and a TD.

Denver and Washington are both fielding porous defenses at the moment, but Herbert’s play is in keeping with the ability he demonstrated over his first two years in the league as a backup to David Montgomery. Now with 283 NFL carries to his name, Herbert has maintained a career 5.1 YPC rate and has proven himself worthy of an RB1 role.

The Bears are also rostering talented rookie Roschon Johnson, who has 25 carries for 122 yards (4.9 YPC) and 11 receptions for 53 yards in 2023. Unfortunately, as Pelissero notes, Johnson is dealing with a concussion, and Travis Homer is battling a hamstring ailment. As such, free agent acquisition D’Onta Foreman — who has accumulated just five rushing attempts this year — could be in line for a larger role in the short-term.

Pelissero reports that Chicago, in an effort to fill out its RB depth chart, has signed running back Darrynton Evans off the Dolphins’ taxi squad. Evans, a 2020 third-round pick of the Titans, was waived by the Bills during final cutdowns in August and joined Miami shortly thereafter. He has not appeared in a game in 2023, but he has familiarity with the Bears, having played in six contests for the club last season.

NFC North Rumors: Tom, Bears, Vikes, Lions

This offseason, Zach Tom loomed as a challenger for either the Packerscenter or right tackle spots. While it is not known just yet where the second-year blocker will end up, it looks like his playing time will increase. Tom is going to end up starting, Matt Schneidman of The Athletic notes (subscription required). A fourth-round pick out of Wake Forest, Tom started five of the nine games he played last season and saw time at four of the five O-line positions (all but center). Tom did start at center for the Demon Deacons, however, playing there and at left tackle in college. Former second-round pick Josh Myers has been the Packers’ primary center over the past two seasons. Should Tom land at right tackle, Yosh Nijman — whom the team gave a second-round RFA tender this offseason — would be on track to be a backup.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • The Bears‘ running back race is still too early to call, but The Athletic’s Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain posit that Khalil Herbert is the current frontronner. David Montgomery‘s top backup last season, Herbert flashed when available. The former sixth-round pick averaged 5.7 yards per carry, helping the Bears lead the league in rushing. With Montgomery now in Detroit, the Bears have held a three-man competition — between Herbert, UFA pickup D’Onta Foreman and fourth-rounder Roschon Johnson — to replace him. Even if Herbert wins the starter gig, Chicago’s run-oriented attack will likely require regular workloads from multiple backs.
  • Veteran running back Mike Davis stopped through Minneapolis for a recent Vikings workout, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Minnesota, which is all set to complete a Dalvin Cook-to-Alexander Mattison transition, recently auditioned Kareem Hunt as well. Beyond Mattison, the Vikings roster Ty Chandler (2022, Round 5) and DeWayne McBride (2023, Round 7) as their top backfield options. Davis, 30, spent last season with the Ravens but did not carve out much playing time — even for a team reeling at running back. He fared better with the Panthers and Falcons in 2020 and 2021, respectively, combining for 1,145 rushing yards in that span.
  • Byron Murphy played a versatile role for the Cardinals, lining up in the slot and outside. The Vikings are planning to capitalize on Murphy’s slot experience, with ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert noting the free agency pickup will move inside when the team shifts to its nickel package. With nickel and dime sets now more common than base alignments, Murphy should be expected to see plenty of slot work in Minnesota.
  • A 2022 second-round pick, Andrew Booth has not made a strong case to move into the starting lineup alongside Murphy. The Clemson product is running Akayleb Evans, a 2022 fourth-rounder, along with Joejuan Williams and rookie third-rounder Mekhi Blackmon. Williams and Blackmon look to be competing for the CB3 role, The Athletic’s Alec Lewis adds, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling notes the rookie is believed to be ahead of the former Patriots second-rounder. Evans, who played 162 defensive snaps last season, has spent the most time with the first team of this group. The Vikings have rebooted at corner, letting both Patrick Peterson and slot Chandon Sullivan walk in free agency.
  • Danielle Hunter‘s reworked deal calls for a $20.95MM cap hit, and although this is now a contract year for the veteran defensive end, two void years remain on the deal (Twitter links via Goessling and ESPN’s Field Yates). Hunter’s $3MM in incentives are classified as not likely to be earned, per Goessling. The void years would leave the Vikings with a $14.9MM dead-money hit if they do not re-sign Hunter before the 2024 league year begins. Void years led to the Vikings taking a $7.5MM dead-money hit when Dalvin Tomlinson left in free agency this year.
  • While Teddy Bridgewater secured $2.5MM guaranteed from the Lions, GOPHNX.com’s Howard Balzer tweets the veteran QB’s Lions deal is worth $3MM in base value. The Lions used a void year, keeping the cap number at $2.66MM.

“Real Competition” Expected For Bears’ RB1 Role

The Bears made an effort to retain longtime starting running back David Montgomery this offseason, but Montgomery eschewed the club’s offer and elected to join the division-rival Lions. Chicago then added D’Onta Foreman to the RB room in free agency and selected Roschon Johnson in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune believes that there will be a “real competition” for the RB1 role, with incumbent Khalil Herbert, Foreman, and Johnson all having a legitimate shot to land the gig.

Herbert, a 2021 sixth-round choice, has flashed plenty of promise during his first two professional seasons, mostly working as a complement to Montgomery. Over 30 games (three starts), Herbert has accumulated 1,164 rushing yards on 232 totes, which represents a sparkling 5.0 yards-per-carry average. He has added 23 catches for 153 yards and has scored seven total touchdowns.

Foreman, meanwhile, has taken a little longer to realize his potential. A third-round pick of the Texans in 2017, Foreman had a decent showing in his first year in the NFL (78 carries for 327 yards and two TDs), but a torn Achilles cut his rookie season short and forced him to miss most of 2018. He was waived in advance of the 2019 season, with poor work habits reportedly accelerating his departure from Houston.

After sitting out all of 2019, Foreman caught on with the Titans’ practice squad in September 2020 and ultimately appeared in six games for Tennessee that year. In 2021, he got his first extended opportunity to shine since he was a rookie, as he carried the ball 133 times for 566 yards (4.3 YPC) as an injury replacement for Derrick Henry.

Foreman signed with the Panthers last March, and following the Christian McCaffrey trade in October, Foreman became Carolina’s feature back. He ended the 2022 season with 203 carries for 914 yards (4.5 YPC) and five touchdowns and was rumored to be a hot commodity should he and the Panthers fail to agree to a new contract before free agency opened this year.

Of course, Foreman and Carolina did not come to terms on a new deal, so the Texas product became a free agent once again. While the suppressed running back market and his lack of receiving prowess limited him to a one-year, $2MM contract with the Bears, he is well-positioned to have a sizable role in Chicago’s offense, even if he is not the official starter.

Johnson, another Texas alumnus, enjoyed a 5.6 YPC average over his four years with the Longhorns. It stands to reason that he would start his career behind Herbert and Foreman on the depth chart, though Biggs believes Johnson’s draft status puts him firmly in the mix to receive the lion’s share of the carries right out of the gate.

The Bears’ heavy investment into their running attack this offseason did not stop at Foreman and Johnson. Chicago also added Travis Homer in free agency, and the club is still rostering 2022 sixth-rounder Trestan Ebner. While Ebner, who carried the ball 24 times for 54 yards last year, would be hard-pressed to earn many rushing attempts if the Herbert/Foreman/Johnson/Homer quartet remains healthy, Biggs believes the second-year pro could nonetheless retain a roster spot due to his receiving and special teams abilities.

Contract Details: Hardman, Foreman, Edmunds, Crowder, Seumalo, Dillard

Here are some details on recent new contracts around the NFL:

  • Andre Dillard, T (Titans): Three years, $29MM. The contract, according to McLane, has a guaranteed amount of $13MM, $10MM of which is guaranteed at signing. The $10MM consists of a $5.99MM signing bonus, Dillard’s first year salary of $1.01MM, and $3MM of his second year base salary (worth a total of $9MM). The remaining $3MM of guaranteed money is also part of Dillard’s 2024 salary and fully guarantees on the fifth league day of the 2024 season. His 2025 base salary is worth a total of $11.5MM. The deal includes a per game active roster bonus of $29,411 for a potential season total of $500,000. Dillard can also receive an additional $2MM in playing time incentives. The Titans built a potential out into the contract that allows the team to cut Dillard after 2024 with $3.59MM in dead cap but $16.79MM in cap savings over the following three years, two of which are void years.
  • Isaac Seumalo, G (Steelers): Three years, $24MM. The deal, according to McLane, has a guaranteed amount of $6.95MM composed of Seumalo’s signing bonus. He’ll receive a base salary of $1.3MM in 2023, $7.88MM in 2024, and $6.88MM in 2025. Seumalo can also receive a 2025 roster bonus of $1MM that guarantees on the third league day of the 2025 season.
  • Mecole Hardman, WR (Jets): One year, $4.5MM. The deal, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN, has a guaranteed amount of $4.08MM, $3MM of which is the signing bonus guaranteed at signing. Hardman’s 2023 cap hit will be $1.88MM due to four void years used to spread out his cap numbers. He’ll have an opportunity to make an additional $2MM from incentives this year.
  • D’Onta Foreman, RB (Bears): One year, $2MM. The contract according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2, has a guaranteed amount of $1MM consisting of a $375,000 signing bonus and $625,000 of his base salary (worth a total of $1.53MM). Foreman can earn an additional $1MM from incentives based on rushing yards, touchdowns, and the playoffs to push the maximum value of his contract to $3MM.
  • Terrell Edmunds, S (Eagles): One year, $2MM. The deal, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, has a guaranteed amount of $600,000 consisting of a $250,000 signing bonus and $350,000 of his 2023 base salary (worth a total of $1.08MM). The contract includes a per game active roster bonus of $39,411 for a potential season total of $670,000. Edmunds can also receive an additional $850,000 in incentives based on team improvements and individual performance.
  • Jamison Crowder, WR (Giants): One year, $1.32MM. The contract, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, has a guaranteed amount of $27,500 composed of Crowder’s signing bonus. The deal includes a per game active roster bonus of $5,882 for a potential season total of $100,000.

Bears, RB D’Onta Foreman Agree To Deal

The Bears have lost their starting running back from the past few seasons, but they have moved quickly to find a new member of their backfield. Chicago is signing running back D’Onta Foreman to a one-year, $3MM deal (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

David Montgomery is set for a move within the NFC North, having agreed to a lucrative deal with the Lions earlier in free agency. His departure from the Windy City was expected, given his production, the Bears’ many needs elsewhere on the roster and the availability of several other capable backs in this year’s free agent class. Now, Chicago has found a low-cost replacement.

Foreman, 26, made his first foray outside the AFC South last year by joining the Panthers following two-year stints with the Texans and Titans, respectively. His play as Derrick Henry‘s backup led to the expectation that he could put up noteworthy production in the event he were to be given the opportunity to serve as a No. 1 in his new home.

That seemed unlikely while the Panthers had Christian McCaffrey at the top of their depth chart, but the team’s decision to trade him away before the deadline left Foreman with the chance to lead the team’s rushing attack. He totaled 914 yards on the ground in 2022; that represented by far the highest mark of his career. The fact that he also set a new personal mark with a yards per carry average of 4.5 pointed to his potential to remain efficient while taking on workhorse duties.

In the build-up to free agency, it was reported that the former third-rounder was expected to be a hot commodity on the open market. The Panthers’ decision to sign Miles Sanders proved that Foreman would need to head elsewhere to have a chance at remaining the lead back in his new home. This deal will give him the chance to do that, as he will compete with Khalil Herbert for the top spot on the Bears’ depth chart.

D’Onta Foreman Would Be “Hot Commodity” In Free Agency

Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman is expected to be a “hot commodity” should he hit free agency later this month, as Aaron Wilson of Click2Houston.com reports. Foreman recently indicated that he wants to return to Carolina, and Wilson says the team will attempt to retain the Texas product.

After the Panthers traded Christian McCaffrey in October, Foreman became the club’s feature back, and he ended the 2022 season with 203 carries for 914 yards (4.5 YPC) and five touchdowns. That represented a continuation of the solid work he displayed with the Titans in 2021, when he carried the ball 133 times for 566 yards (4.3 YPC) as an injury replacement for Derrick Henry.

So it stands to reason that Foreman would generate interest in free agency, and we heard in December that outside clubs were monitoring his status. Obviously, having a number of teams involved will help Foreman’s cause, but there are also several factors that will limit his earning power. For one, running back is no longer considered a premium position, and Foreman is not an elite talent who will be paid like his Pro Bowl-caliber colleagues. Second, even though players like Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard will likely be kept off the market via the franchise tag, talents like Miles Sanders, David Montgomery, Kareem Hunt, and Devin Singletary could be available, and even Saquon Barkley could be there for the taking.

Plus, Foreman is a between-the-tackles runner who does not offer much in the passing game. In light of all of those considerations, Spotrac estimates that the soon-to-be 27-year-old merits a one-year contract worth $3.4MM. That would be a nice raise from the $2MM salary he earned in 2022, but it would not be a budget-busting sum that the Panthers would be unable to afford (particularly as the team’s other RBs, Chuba Hubbard and Raheem Blackshear, are on eminently affordable rookie deals).

In related news, new Carolina head coach Frank Reich has said that the team is prioritizing a new contract for center Bradley Bozeman, as David Newton of ESPN.com tweets. We heard in January that Bozeman is interested in remaining with the Panthers, so there is a good chance that the parties will strike an accord in short order.

RB D’Onta Foreman Wants To Re-Sign With Panthers

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 WilliamsJonathan 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.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Hayward, Wirfs

Next year’s running back market stands to feature a glut of starter-caliber options. Even if the Giants and Raiders respectively keep Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs from hitting free agency, potential first-time free agents Miles Sanders, Tony Pollard, David Montgomery, Damien Harris, Devin Singletary and Alexander Mattison are unsigned through 2023. Ditto Kareem Hunt, who is expected to hit the market after the Browns held off on a deadline trade. Jeff Wilson and Jamaal Williams would also be intriguing second-go-round UFAs, but the Panthers have a player in a similar position.

D’Onta Foreman signed a one-year, $2MM deal to relocate from Charlotte to Nashville this offseason, and he has continued his Titans pace. Christian McCaffrey‘s replacement, who ended up being Derrick Henry‘s top fill-in last year, now has seven 100-yard games over his past 13. Teams are monitoring the former third-round pick’s status, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. The Panthers have Chuba Hubbard signed through 2024, and although they are likely to change coaching staffs come January, Foreman makes sense as a re-sign candidate. Despite being a 2017 draftee, he is just 26. And thanks to a lengthy hiatus that covered much of a three-year stretch from 2018-20, the ex-Texas Longhorn only has 366 career carries. That bodes well for more quality seasons being ahead.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Casey Hayward has been on IR since mid-October; he has been eligible to return for a bit now. But the Falcons cornerback is not a lock to come back this year, per AtlantaFalcons.com’s Scott Bair, who notes the 11th-year veteran underwent shoulder surgery after hitting the injured list. Hayward and the Saints’ Chris Harris are the NFL’s oldest active-roster cornerbacks, at 33, and the former represents a key defender for a team gunning for an unexpected division title. Hayward signed a two-year, $11MM deal to come over from Las Vegas. The Falcons have used second-year man Darren Hall in his place. Pro Football Focus does rank Hall, a fourth-round pick out of San Diego State, 35th overall among corners this season.
  • The Buccaneers are expected to be without Tristan Wirfs for a bit because of a high ankle sprain. While the team is hoping the All-Pro right tackle can return in three or four weeks, Fowler adds the third-year blocker could be facing a five- or six-week absence. Some ligament damage occurred, per Fowler, but Wirfs is not expected to need surgery. This timetable would put run up against the end of the regular season, though the Bucs have not placed Wirfs on IR yet.
  • Whereas Foreman’s free agency stock is rising, Baker Mayfield‘s keeps tumbling. Steve Wilks announced Sam Darnold will start in Week 14 against the Seahawks but stopped short of declaring Mayfield the backup, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Mayfield’s QB2 status depends on P.J. Walker‘s health, according to Wilks. This certainly points to Wilks having more confidence in the ex-XFLer. Despite pushing for Offensive Rookie of the Year acclaim and playing a lead role in snapping one of major American sports’ longest playoff droughts two years later, Mayfield will likely need to sign a one-year deal and attempt to prove himself once again. Mayfield, 27, remains last in QBR among qualified starters.

CMC Trade Fallout: Panthers, Offers, 49ers, Draft, Shanahan, Rams, Bills, Broncos, RBs

While reports indicating Christian McCaffrey‘s availability appeared at select points this year, this process began to heat up in the days after Matt Rhule‘s firing. Last week became a tipping point, with McCaffrey’s position on the trade block becoming a relentless NFL story.

Scott Fitterer said he received initial McCaffrey offers last Friday, and while the team fell just short of receiving a first-round equivalent, the second-year GM said the combined value comes close (Twitter links via Panthers.com’s Darin Gantt). Interest picked up over the past two days, and Fitterer said three teams submitted hard offers.

The 49ers were the first team to reach out, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, doing so last Friday. Other teams started calling Tuesday. The process concluded with the 49ers sending the Panthers second-, third- and fourth-round picks in 2023 and a fifth-rounder in 2024.

It is safe to say the Rams were one of the final three. They were viewed as the silver medalist for the dual-threat running back, with NFL.com’s Peter Schrager indicating the Rams’ interest helped fuel the 49ers’ pursuit (video link). This reminds of 2021’s Matthew Stafford sweepstakes, when the 49ers pursued the veteran quarterback only to see the Rams swoop in late with a monster offer.

Cam Akers‘ struggles recapturing his pre-Achilles-tear form already led to some issues in the Rams’ backfield, matters compounded by injuries on their offensive line, but the third-year back’s trade likelihood further complicates this situation. Darrell Henderson resides as Los Angeles’ top back, but the team may still be on the lookout. Though, absent a talent like McCaffrey, it is possible the defending Super Bowl champions focus their pre-deadline efforts on higher-value positions.

The Bills may have been the third team. Buffalo checked in on McCaffrey this offseason, and while the team did not submit an offer then, it wanted a courtesy call in the event Carolina became serious about moving its All-Pro back. The Bills possessed an advantage on the Rams and 49ers, in holding their 2023 first-round pick. But Buffalo wanted to hold onto that choice, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports notes. McCaffrey’s future salaries ($11.8MM, $11.8MM, $12MM) were potentially problematic for a Bills team — one that extended Josh Allen in 2021, Stefon Diggs in 2022 and signed Von Miller in free agency — that features high costs atop its payroll.

Rumored as a suitor late last week, the Broncos called the Panthers about the Colorado native, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports notes. The team is not believed to have submitted an offer, however, per Jones. The Broncos could have put together a long-term McCaffrey-Javonte Williams partnership, though the latter — ACL tear notwithstanding — profiles as a potential star and is signed through 2024. Denver’s Russell Wilson contract also would have made bringing McCaffrey home more complicated.

While McCaffrey is not going home, he is returning to the region in which he starred in college. The former Heisman finalist at Stanford expressed interest for the past few days in returning to the Bay Area and playing for Kyle Shanahan, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The 26-year-old back has known Kyle Shanahan most of his life, with the two being around the Mike Shanahan-era Broncos due to their fathers’ 1990s and 2000s Denver stays. Ed McCaffrey, a backup behind Jerry Rice and John Taylor during the 49ers’ 1994 Super Bowl-winning season, was with the Broncos from 1995-2003.

San Francisco still holds two third-round picks next year — due to Washington’s Martin Mayhew GM hire and Miami’s Mike McDaniel HC addition — but is now without first- or second-round choices. Shanahan confirmed McCaffrey would not be a rental, and Trey Lance‘s rookie deal will pair well with CMC’s salaries. But the team stands to enter next year’s draft with a Rams-like pick allotment.

It’s great to have these draft picks and stuff,” Shanahan said during a KNBR appearance (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch). “That’s how you build your team. That’s how we build our team here is through the draft. But when you know you have a guaranteed guy and you don’t have to worry about three picks, hoping one of them will [work out], you just go get that guy. That’s something that I feel you never look back on. It’s rare that you can get those opportunities.”

In terms of how the Panthers will proceed going forward, Steve Wilks said the team will use a committee approach to replace McCaffrey. Carolina had used McCaffrey as a workhorse whenever he was available, a blueprint that may have contributed to his injury trouble over the past two years. But D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard stand to pick up the slack. Running back will likely be a Panthers 2023 need.