The Carolina Panthers’ season was all about draining even before Matt Roll became the first NFL coaching victim in 2022 last week. The post-Rhule era dawned on Sunday with an embarrassing performance in a 24-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, who didn’t look like he was defending the Super Bowl champions in the previous two games.
One of the few bright spots for the Panthers with the worst 1-5 record in the league is former All-Pro RB Christian McCaffrey. Just 26 games, ‘CMc’ – he missed 23 games between the 2020 and 21 seasons – was a reminder that he’s one of the key multi-dimensional talents in his position when he’s healthy. Against the Rams, he rushed for 69 yards and had seven passes for another 89—the combined 158 yards representing 78% of Carolina’s total. It was also the 24th time in McCaffrey’s six-year career that he scored a 50-yard rushing And the receive in the same game; Only Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (41) has done this more times in the presence of the NFL 103rd season.
Despite his less than ideal conditions, McCaffrey’s 670-yard scrimmage in 2022 is currently ranked fourth in the league. His 33 receptions during Sunday’s games led all full-backs.
His appearance with the Panthers’ internal meltdown continues to fuel speculation that he could be a key commercial chip for a team that is clearly looking to the future. Carolina made her first major post-Rhule transaction on Monday, tackling underprivileged receiver Robbie Anderson to the Arizona Cardinals.
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So where could McCaffrey end up if Carolina General Manager Scott Fetterer – the Panthers currently only have five picks in next year’s draft (waiting for what Anderson brings) – gets an offer he likes before the league’s November 1 trading deadline?
“All of these things are out of my control,” McCaffrey said on Sunday. “My job is to be the best Carolina Panther, doing everything I can for my teammates.”
The best thing he might be able to do now is to facilitate a rebuild or reset by returning the assets to Charlotte.
Here are seven feasible destinations for McCaffrey:
It’s the nightmare scenario for the rest of the league. The Bills are on top of the AFC after Sunday’s win at Kansas City, and they may already be good enough to win their first Super Bowl. But it’s also clear that they’re all on board given the six-year, $120 million deal they made to 33-year-old Von Miller, who was busy recruiting additional promotions—free agent WR Odell Beckham Jr.
However, if there is an area that could use fortification, a Buffalo game might be in play. Since QB Josh Allen was drafted in 2018, he’s been leading the team in two seasons, including this year’s (257 yards). The Bills haven’t had anyone run for more than 900 yards since LeSean McCoy in 2017, and Devin Singletary (1,098 yards in 2021) is the only comeback to exceed 1,000 yards of scrimmage in a season during Allen’s tenure. Buffalo currently has the #1 overall offense in the league but ranks 17th in rushing. Imagine adding McCaffrey to that equation.
From a salary cap standpoint, no team should have much trouble accommodating McCaffrey’s base salary balance of $1.04 million in 2022, although Billings will have to adjust the payroll structure to accommodate the $36.2 million it owes from 2023 to 2025 ( Including $12 million (next year). But the bigger question is what Buffalo will be willing to pay – in venture capital terms – to the Panthers, who will incur a maximum fee of $18.4 million for 2023 by trading CMc and want multiple first-round draft picks for their problem, According to the reportand a performance star who should have several major years ahead of him.
There’s a footnote worth noting: Billing General Manager Brandon Bean was GM’s assistant assistant to the Panthers when they made McCaffrey the eighth overall pick for the 2017 draft. However, according to an NFL Network report last week, the Carolina Bills were not involved in trade talks about it.
It is worth considering several levels. McCaffrey is a Colorado native whose father, Ed, was a primary recipient in the 1997 Denver and 1998 Super Bowl. CMc would also fit in in theory with the posterior field who lost Jafonte Williams for the foreseeable future after he ruptured multiple knee ligaments in Week 4 and is trying to survive the final fumble of Melvin Gordon. McCaffrey could also calm a fan base already disappointed by an offense spoiled by junior coach Nathaniel Hackett and struggling QB Russell Wilson.
On the contrary, the acquisition of McCaffrey would be a huge swing for a team under new ownership that is already trying to solve many problems. GM George Patton will have to face serious debt draft given the Wilson deal that already stripped the Broncos in the first and second rounds next year.
Kansas City Chiefs
In the depths of the emergence of the AFC, it may also be shaping up as a two-team arms race between the Bells and the team that has knocked them out of the post-season over the past two years. The Chiefs’ Week 6 home loss to the Buffalo almost certainly means the venue will shift to Western New York if the clubs meet again in January.
McCaffrey is clearly a different kind of player running a different position than WR Terrick Hill’s departure. However, McCaffrey, who averaged nearly 2,200 scrimmage yards and 6 yards per touch between 2018-19, could replace Hill’s production. And Andy Reed knows how to use the multi-threat – Brian Westbrook, McCoy, Jamal Charles and Karim Hunt each star take turns in his attack.
Kansas City ranks 20th in the rush, and McCaffrey will be a clear upgrade to the committee currently led by Clyde Edwards Hillier. Like the Bills, The Chiefs could deliver what could likely end up being a late-round first-round pick in 2023 for CMc. However, GM Brett Fitch could also improve the package by throwing in rookie RB Isiah Pacheco, who looks like he could be a dynamic sprinter but doesn’t get much of a touch here.
One last reason presidents should consider McCaffrey’s trade? Such a move will ensure that he does not end up in Buffalo.
Los Angeles rams
Banning is their primary mistake, but the offensive line has time to heal. However, coach Sean McVeigh and GM Les Snead must strike soon to strike one of their patented deals — and McCaffrey could solve a lot of problems with an offense facing, by far, its worst season since McVeigh arrived in 2017.
The Rams took a closer look at McCaffrey on Sunday and definitely saw a man who could be an outlet future able to mitigate protection issues in front of QB Matthew Stafford while reducing the burden on WR Cooper Kupp.
L.A. isn’t slated to pick in the first round again until 2024, so Snead and McVay may have to come up with a makeshift lead. It could include the Carolina RB Cam Akers for the third year, which appears to have found its way into the McVay kennel.
Consider McCaffrey’s work in the vast expanses created by the big duo Hill and Jaylene Waddell. The fins also have significant blocking deficiencies, as evidenced by the controversial batting of QB Tua Tagovailoa, only two teams less productive on the ground than 81.2 yards per game Miami plays. McCaffrey can hide those weaknesses.
Junior head coach Mike McDaniel made a lot of his bones as a running game coordinator in San Francisco for five seasons and could take this offense in new directions with talent of McCaffrey’s caliber. That would, of course, presume the organization was finally sold off in Tagovailoa as the franchise lane – especially after being stripped of next year’s first-round pick following the league’s investigation into owner Stephen Ross’ manipulation of Tom Brady and Sean Payton. Miami has the 49ers’ first all-rounder of 2023.
San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Shanahan’s attack builds on the success of the running game, but she’s been average this season without injured player Elijah Mitchell. Under Shanahan, the Niners haven’t invested much in the backyard running center, featuring five different lead riders in the coach’s first five seasons.
But McCaffrey may be a game-changer for a team that has lost the Super Bowl and the NFC title game in the previous three seasons. He will be an obvious asset to QB Jimmy Garoppolo this year, not to mention someone Trey Lance can count on next year as he returns to the starting role as he tries to come back from the broken ankle that prematurely ended his 2022 campaign. McCaffrey could also beautifully compliment ‘wide-back’ Deebo Samuel while giving Shanahan the option to rely less on heavy All-Pro involvement in the running game.
McCaffrey’s salary wouldn’t be much of a hindrance given that Lance is on a junior deal until 2025. However, the Niners’ ability to swing a deal is complicated by the fact that Lance cost them a first-round pick next year thanks to that preliminary trade with Miami in 2021.
On the one hand, Ron Rivera needs to protect the projects as a high-end pick for the first round of 2023 to tackle what the coach admitted was a recent downfall in his franchise: the quarterback. On the other hand, conditional third-round pick Rivera spent this out of the season to get Carson Wentz might not make it to a second round since a broken caller finger could prevent him from taking 70% of the leaders’ shots.
Perhaps this creates an opportunity for Washington. The club has long embraced shocking dealings under embattled owner Dan Snyder and could try to reunite McCaffrey with Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who oversaw his best season in 2019. Carolina also might be a logical business partner given RB Antonio Gibson’s role with Leaders are in constant flux.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trade Destinations Christian McCaffrey: 7 NFL Teams That Make sense
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