Teams call Panthers over Christian McCaffrey trade, but Carolina doesn’t expect to stage fire sale
When the Panthers announced the firing of Matt Rhule last Monday, it more than sparked an immediate backlash over who the Panthers’ next head coach would be. It also served as a bat signal for all teams satisfied with the trade.
Who was suddenly available?
Although the Panthers have received numerous calls, sources say the team will not hold a sellout. With a talented roster still in need of a quarterback moving forward, Carolina won’t get rid of its talented players for several reasons – one being that it would like to lure a top-notch coach with his talent. .
Star running back Christian McCaffrey is attracting the most interest from teams, sources say. And while Carolina won’t buy McCaffrey — far from it — the team would listen, as GM Scott Fitterer promised, it would on every trade.
Only a landslide comeback would see the Panthers deal with one of the faces of their franchise, sources say. The opposing teams wonder if a trade would really happen, but at least there will be talks. Teams should try to trade for McCaffrey.
In this context, Steve Wilks will lead his first game as interim head coach. Wilks fired defensive coordinator Phil Snow on Monday, installed assistant Al Holcomb to call the plays as interim DC and put his stamp on the team. Wilks will have a realistic chance of winning the job, assuming the team’s performance picks up. This will be the focus for the next few months as the organization conducts further research on other candidates for the vacant position.
A few years ago, McCaffrey received a four-year, $64 million extension that made him the highest-paid running back in football (he still is) while tying him to the Panthers until 2025. (when combined with his fifth-year opportunity).
This year’s base salary is only $1.035 million, as it was restructured during the offseason for salary cap reasons. He still earned the nearly $9 million owed to him, but helped the team create $5.52 million in cap space. If traded, the Panthers will save $1.2 million in cap next season.
Contractually, McCaffrey’s deal is negotiable.
If such a trade occurs, the new team would inherit three years and $36 million until 2025 with $1 million of its 2023 base guaranteed – all before its 30th birthday.
McCaffrey has only played 10 games in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, battling various injuries. But he’s back to his original self this year, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and contributing to the passing game.
McCaffrey won’t be the only player to spark commercial interest.
Wide receiver Robbie Anderson, whose name appeared in trade rumors last offseason, is also attracting interest and could be traded at the right opportunity, sources say. He has 13 catches for 206 yards and a base salary of just $1.035 million because his contract was restructured.
Wide receiver DJ Moore, passing thrower Brian Burns and defensive tackle Derrick Brown are among the other players teams are calling, but it’s highly unlikely that any of those players will be traded. They are seen as building blocks for the future, the kind of players who would draw a new coach. Ditto with the rebuilt and effective offensive line.
In fact, rival GMs have praised Carolina’s overall talent, minus the quarterback issues that now have them starting PJ Walker on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. On Sunday, with many questions for the future, Wilks leads them onto the field to try to make the best of a difficult situation.
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