NFL

Should the Panthers be concerned about Christian McCaffrey’s injury issues?

This isn’t great news for the free-falling Panthers. They have lost four in a row since opening the season with a surprising 3-2 record. While Mike Davis has played well in McCaffrey’s stead, he’s nowhere near the dynamic all-around threat as his counterpart.

In his return to action last week after missing the previous six games, McCaffrey tallied 151 total yards and two touchdowns. He nearly helped Carolina pull off an upset win over the defending champion Chiefs.

Carolina will now have to do battle against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Week 10 without its best player. That’s a less-than-ideal scenario for the struggling team. It also raises some questions about McCaffrey moving forward.

There’s no word on the severity of McCaffrey’s latest injury. What we do know is that he was doubtful heading into Week 10. The running back and his team are awaiting MRI results. That should tell us the extent of the injury.

However, the fact that McCaffrey was ruled out this early in the week should tell us a story. There’s obviously going to be further updates moving forward on the running back’s long-term status.

It was just this past April that Carolina inked McCaffrey to a record-breaking four-year, $64 million contract. Said deal called for $30.01 million in fully guaranteed cash and $38.16 million in total guarantees.

It was an eye-opening contract in an era of NFL football that has seen teams devalue the running back position. In fact, top-end running backs have seen a much less robust market than players at other positions.

With that said, McCaffrey’s performance seemed to suggest the Panthers did the right thing.

The numbers are absolutely insane for McCaffrey since he entered the league as a top-eight pick in the 2017 NFL Draft:

  • 2017: 435 rushing yards, 80 receptions, 651 yards, 1,086 total yards, 5.5 average, seven touchdowns
  • 2018: 1,098 rushing yards, 107 receptions, 867 yards, 1,965 total yards, 6.0 average, 13 touchdowns
  • 2019: 1,387 rushing yards, 116 receptions, 1,005 yards, 2,392 total yards, 5.9 average, 19 touchdowns

As you can see, McCaffrey’s ability to make plays in the passing game has made him one of the best all-purpose backs in recent NFL history. It’s why the Panthers made him the highest-paid player at his position in the league.

Dealing with his second injury in less than two months, there now has to be concern that McCaffrey might not be able to maintain the high level of touches we’ve seen in the past. Remember, he led the NFL with 403 touches a season ago and has touched the ball a whopping 729 times over the past two years.

Add in the McCaffrey contract and guaranteed money he has remaining, and concerns should grow about where he stands moving forward.

When on the field, McCaffrey is an absolute stud. The issue here is large contracts other top-end running backs have received in the past. The most-recent example is Todd Gurley, who was released by the Los Angeles Rams during the offseason less than two calendar years after signing a then-record four-year, $57.5 million extension.

Let’s hope these recent spats with injuries are not a precursor for McCaffrey.



 

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