The Carolina Panthers are in the midst of a full teardown, with the organization recently moving on from head coach Matt Rhule and jettisoning Robbie Anderson to Arizona between Week 6 and Week 7. However, Carolina took another giant step on Thursday evening, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting the Panthers will trade star running back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for draft compensation.
Stunner: Panthers are trading Pro-Bowl RB Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for draft picks, sources tell ESPN.
McCaffrey returns to the Bay Area, where he attended Stanford. pic.twitter.com/R474r3eSkv
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 21, 2022
Shortly after, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that the Panthers were discussing McCaffrey deals with both the 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams, ultimately agreeing with San Francisco on a deal that includes four picks.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 21, 2022
McCaffrey, who is still only 26 years old, is one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in the NFL, though he has struggled to stay on the field in recent years. McCaffrey has appeared in only 16 games since the start of the 2020 season but, when he is on the field, the former Stanford standout is always effective. In fact, he has 7,272 yards from scrimmage in 64 career games with 50 career touchdowns in less than six seasons.
On the San Francisco side, McCaffrey brings an intriguing element alongside Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and a creative offensive design under Kyle Shanahan. McCaffrey is best utilized as a versatile piece, headlined by elite receiving ability for a running back, but he also projects as the top ball carrier on a team that has used Jeff Wilson and Elijah Mitchell in prominent roles in recent months.
It remains to be seen as to whether McCaffrey can stay healthy but, if he does, San Francisco could have one of the best skill position groups in the NFL, making life easier for Jimmy Garoppolo. For Carolina, this is arguably the biggest step yet in the moves toward the future, and no one is safe from the trade block.