The Carolina Panthers aren't necessarily looking to lock up veterans as they remake their roster under new coach Matt Rhule, but it's already apparent they might make an exception for one in particular. Addressing reporters Monday, general manager Marty Hurney was asked about a possible contract extension for star running back Christian McCaffrey and suggested the team is "obviously" aiming to keep McCaffrey around on a long-term deal.
"I've never talked about contracts," Hurney said, as noted by the Associated Press's Steve Reed, among others, "but obviously, we've had internal discussions. Everybody knows what we think of Christian as a player. Other than that, I really can't say anymore."
In other words, the Panthers like McCaffrey, and with the former first-round draft pick approaching a contract year, it's a safe bet Carolina will do what it takes to keep the Pro Bowler in town. The team can still exercise the running back's fifth-year option in order to control his rights through 2021, not to mention potentially use a franchise tag after that. But fresh off his first career All-Pro nod as the centerpiece of the Panthers' offense, the 23-year-old McCaffrey is also primed for a big-money extension.
Lucrative RB deals, of course, aren't quite as lauded as they used to be. The Los Angeles Rams evidenced that with their release of former Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley this offseason. McCaffrey, however, could stand as an exception for several reasons. First, he's still young and has never missed a game in his three-year NFL career. Second, and perhaps more important, he's arguably at his best as a pass catcher, breaking the RB record for single-season receptions in two straight years after a whopping 116 catches in 2019.
McCaffrey, who accounted for nearly 2,400 total yards in 2019, is due roughly $5.4 million in 2020.