DeAndre Hopkins may not be the only Pro Bowler up for grabs before NFL free agency officially begins.
With Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey entering the final year of his $17.2 million rookie deal, his future remains a question mark as the Matt Rhule era gets underway in Carolina, Alaina Getzenberg of the Charlotte Observer outlined Monday, noting the possibilities of an extension or trade.
McCaffrey ran for 1,387 yards last year with 287 receptions and 15 touchdowns. In December, the Pro Bowler’s loved ones — including girlfriend Olivia Culpo — watched as he became the third player to amass 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.
Based on his proven production, a massive extension would seem like a no-brainer given McCaffrey, 23, is also an integral part of the team’s passing game.
“There has been talk of McCaffrey resetting the market with his new deal because of that,” Getzenberg noted. “There aren’t many running backs out there who are so valuable to a team’s passing game, which is something his representatives will make a point of in negotiations.”
McCaffrey is under contract for the 2020 season and if he is still on Carolina, they will have to decide if they want to extend him or just add the fifth-year option. The motivation for trading McCaffrey would be a complete rebuild under the Rhule regime.
“His name has come up as a potential trade candidate for the Panthers,” Getzenberg wrote, referencing the Trai Turner-Russell Okung swap earlier this month as an indicator “that almost no player on the roster was safe.”
NFL free agency officially opens Wednesday, with the legal tampering period having started Monday at noon.