Carolina Signs Christian McCaffrey To An Extension Averaging $16 Million Per Year

The Carolina Panthers have given a four-year, $64 million extension to Christian McCaffrey, per Adam Schefter.  Details on the contract structure are unknown.  The Panthers made McCaffrey the highest-paid running back in the NFL even though he is under contract for 2020 with a cap hit of $5.48 million, is subject to a 5th year option for 2021, and could be franchise tagged for the 2022 season, and despite the team having just $13 million in cap space for 2020, per Overthecap (after adjusting for Kuechly's retirement).

At least four NFL players are certainly smiling: Derrick Henry, Kenyon Drake, Alvin Kamara, and Green Bay's own Aaron Jones.  Henry and Drake are on tags for $10.28 million and $8.48 million, respectively.  Henry's career highs for both receptions and receiving yards are only 18 receptions for 209 yards, so the comparison to McCaffrey is not so direct for him.  Drake has had seasons in which he caught over 50 passes while Kamara has caught 81 passes in each of his first three seasons.  In 2019, Aaron Jones caught 49 passes for 494 yards, a 9.7 yard average and tied McCaffrey for the NFL lead in touchdowns scored from scrimmage with 19.  Drake's high is 9 touchdowns from scrimmage.  Kamara has scored 13, 18, and 6 touchdowns, respectively, in his first three seasons.

Obviously, McCaffrey's statistics are excellent and he has yet to miss an NFL game.  Let's look at the statistics for Jones, Drake, Kamara, and McCaffrey over the last two seasons:

Player Att Yds Ave Rec Tgt % Ave
McCaffrey 506 2485 4.91 223 266 84% 8.39/7.04
Jones 369 1812 4.91 75 103 72.8 9.06/6.60
Drake 290 1352 4.66 103 141 73.0 7.98/5.83
Kamara 365 1680 4.60 162 202 80.2 7.67/6.15

One might note that Drake played six of his fourteen games rushing behind Miami's denuded offensive line: his average in Miami was 3.7 yards per carry but it increased in Arizona to 5.3.  Others might note that McCaffrey rushed 17.9 and 13.7 times per game in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and played 91 and 93 percent of possible snaps.  Aaron Jones carried the ball 11.1 and 14.8 times per game in 2018 and 2019, respectively, while playing 35 and 62 percent of possible snaps.  Drake increased his carries per game from 7.5 to 12.1, but Arizona had him rush 15.4 times per game in the eight games he played for them.  Drake increased his share of snaps from 59 to 68 percent of possible snaps.  Kamara rushed 12.9 and 12.2 times per game, respectively, in 2018 and 2019.  He played 63 and 59 percent of possible snaps.  

Clearly, Drake, Kamara, and Jones should not get McCaffrey type of money.  McCaffrey never comes off the field and has great statistics.  Jones does show similar explosiveness.  Jones and Kamara were both drafted in 2017 and have three years in the NFL, and thus their teams 2020 plus the ability to tag them in 2021.  Drake is currently on a tag.  McCaffrey's contract helps set the market.  Drake might hammer out a long-term contract later this year.  Jones, Drake and Kamara appear to have comparable statistics, though I would give an edge to Jones over Drake, with Kamara being too close to call.

I admit that it boggles my mind that Carolina extended McCaffrey with two and possibly three years of control left especially given the history of running back contracts blowing up in teams' faces.  I do not expect the Packers to do anything contract-wise with Jones this year, but I will be watching what happens with Drake and Kamara.

 

 

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6 points

Comments (32)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 14, 2020 at 07:32 am

I tried to find a photo of Jones smiling, but this is close enough. Still, Drake might be a better comparison than McCaffrey and Drake is most likely the next to sign a longer deal. McCaffrey got this deal even though as far as I can see he had no leverage, other than the faces of the franchise, Keuchly and Newton, both leaving.

Carolina's new GM, marty Hurney, has already racked up $36M in dead money for 2020 alone. Newton was only $2M of that amount. Carolina will get $3.6M cap relief when Keuckly's retirement papers go through and more next year. The team should get some but not all of his signing bonus back. They won't ask for the amount due to him converting base salary to a signing bonus, for example.

Oops, I see that Corey wrote an article on McCaffrey. I looked to see if there was another article before I started but research takes time.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

April 14, 2020 at 09:06 am

TGR don't compare your writing to Cory's. Cory is an opinion writer who doesn't research or use data to back any of his claims. The internet is filled with bloggers writing about McCaffrey's massive deal. Appreciate the comparisons and I just don't see how the Packers can afford to sign/extend Jones. The consolation prize is the comp pick we get for him could be a 3rd rounder when he was drafted in the 5th.

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dobber's picture

April 14, 2020 at 09:12 am

The only way Jones comes affordably is if he's ineffective or if he misses most of the season due to injury. In either case you'd have to ask why you would invest in him heavily.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 14, 2020 at 12:55 pm

APC expressed fewer opinions and provided fewer facts in its article on the CMC extension than Cory chose to use. I have to provide stats because I write about the salary cap and roster construction and only write opinions that are at least tangential or can't be separated from cold hard numbers or rules.

I went on cat scratch reader and found that Carolina fans like the deal, though a few worried about the cost. Carolina has $80M in cap space and probably more in 2021, so they can afford to take a little risk. I made a couple of comments but I hope I stayed in a neutral cap guy mode. Pantherswire liked it less, or at least there was a split of opinion among its writers.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 14, 2020 at 03:06 pm

Ancillary sales from his Jersey# and appearances play into the marketing scheme with his payday. Accrued bonus from his earlier performances is fair value.

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stockholder's picture

April 14, 2020 at 07:35 am

McCaffrey is a great runner. He is their offense. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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GBPDAN1's picture

April 14, 2020 at 07:44 am

This sucks. Jones is definitely gone after this year. With the other needs on this team, now we have to add RB to the list.

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Coldworld's picture

April 14, 2020 at 07:52 am

If this investment looks good in January. On the other hand, there is a reason why massive second contracts for running backs are rare. An injury or less effective season could see this market falling back.

That said, with a Dexter Williams being unable to earn reps last year—at one of the few positions where an immediate impact can be expected—suggests a running back was already part of the mix. This news certainly doesn’t diminish that imperative.

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Bearmeat's picture

April 14, 2020 at 07:57 am

I think it's a 50/50 shot that Jones is here past this year. He's great. Best Packer RB since Green for sure. But if I have to choose between a legit WR2 and another DT, or Jones, I'm picking the former and drafting 2 RBs.

I'd also think Dalvin Cook is smiling too, by the way.

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dobber's picture

April 14, 2020 at 08:52 am

I think they needed to draft at least one RB, anyway, because it looks like at least one of Jamaal Williams or Jones (if not both) will walk, and Dexter Williams has shown nothing.

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Lare's picture

April 14, 2020 at 09:21 am

I wonder what the main problem is with Dexter Williams. I thought I read somewhere last year that he was having trouble learning the playbook.

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dobber's picture

April 14, 2020 at 09:31 am

I understand he was also having trouble blocking in pass pro. He's not a regular on ST coverage units either.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 14, 2020 at 08:55 am

Oops, I forgot Dalvin Cook. Same draft year, 2017. He was injured a lot, but in 2019 he rushed 250 times for a 4.5 yard average, and caught 53 of 63 targets (84%) for a 9.8 yard average and a robust 8.2 yards per target average with 13 TDs from scrimmage. 2018 would have dragged down his numbers.

I think GB should draft an RB, but day three unless someone unexpected drops to 94, or gulp, 62 (and no one else is similar value, which is unlikely at 62).

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Packers2020's picture

April 14, 2020 at 08:27 am

Sorry but no RB is worth 16M per year at this point. If Jones wants that much draft another and let him go.

Now depending on the contract and what the guarantees are it might be worth it.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 14, 2020 at 09:12 am

McCaffrey has 1005 yards receiving and tacked on 1387 yards rushing. 10 WRs make $16M and none of them will top 1300 yards rushing.

I don't really disagree since it doesn't look like they got any discount, but almost 2400 yards from scrimmage is exceedingly rare. Chris Johnson (2509) and Marshall Faulk had more yds from scrimmage. Other guys with more than 2300 yards include Tiki Barber, LaDalian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, Edgerrin James, Adrian Peterson, and Steven Jackson (six out of nine are or will be HOFers).

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Bearmeat's picture

April 14, 2020 at 10:39 am

How long did Chris Johnson last thought? Marshall Faulk is a HOF talent and is the outlier. The issue on paying franchise RBs isn't how much they affect the game, but their longevity vs other positions. RBs like Jones get killed in the current CBA. If I were the players union, I'd have made getting their rookie contracts over sooner a top priority for this reason.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 14, 2020 at 11:03 am

Johnson had six excellent years (2008 to 2013) and two more meh years with 600 and 800 rushing yards. Still, just playing devil's advocate, six of the 9 RBs to go over 2300 yards from scrimmage are hall of famers.

I've written that I wouldn't pay any RB big money. McCaffrey has had 926 touches in his first three years. I would have made McCaffery play on his rookie deal for one more year, on his 5th year option for another, and then see if he is worth a franchise tag (which is low for RBs). Three more one year deals eliminates a lot of risk and has to be cheaper than the deal he got, unless the structure is absurdly team friendly with a weird cash flow, very little guaranteed money and there is no signing bonus to speak of.

So, we pretty much agree. What annoys me is that Carolina didn't have to pay this much or do it now, but has now helped set the market. One dumb GM. Like Howie set the WR market when he grossly overpaid Alshon Jeffrey at $13M per.

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Guam's picture

April 14, 2020 at 08:27 am

The Packers had serious next year cap issues before the McCaffery contract and this just makes it less likely Jones will be retained. With Clark, Bakh and Jones up for big contracts and King up for a mid-sized contract, the Packers are going to have to make some tough choices. As the Packers old columnist used to say "It is a game of replacement".

I suspect this will not significantly alter the Packers draft plans for this year as a RB drafted this year will likely just spend time on the bench. Wait until next year's draft to find the replacement RB unless a great one slides significantly (3rd round or later) this year.

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PeteK's picture

April 14, 2020 at 09:02 am

Clark is making over 7 and Bak over 10 so their contracts should not take a very big jump. We could squeeze them all in , but there would be no money to sign free agents. I think Linsley or Jones are gone next year depending on how this season plays out.

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dobber's picture

April 14, 2020 at 09:05 am

I think the Packers will be drafting with an eye on replacing both Linsley and Jones. If they view Jenkins as being a possible switch to C, it gives the Packers tremendous flexibility to draft a true C, a true G, or a T to G conversion project.

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Guam's picture

April 14, 2020 at 10:35 am

Clark could be +$6mil and Bakh +$4mil which leaves very little if any room for Jones given that QB1's contract also escalates next year. I think Jones/Taylor/Linsley/King could all in trouble next year.

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PeteK's picture

April 14, 2020 at 12:35 pm

I just looked up Rogers' contract , the cap hit escalates from 21 to 36 mill !?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 14, 2020 at 01:04 pm

Yup. Depending on the results of 2020 and also on how AR plays and looks in LaFleur's offense, I would not be surprised if Gute converts $10M to $15M of base and roster bonus to a signing bonus to free up $7 to $10M in cap space for 2021.

That means AR's currently scheduled $39.8M cap hit for 2022 would jump to $43M+, but Gute might convert base to a signing bonus to level out the cap hit and increase the $28M cap hit for 2023 - which might be cheap by then. IDK. Time will tell.

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dobber's picture

April 14, 2020 at 09:03 am

If the Packers land a multi-purpose RB who can pass pro in this draft, I wouldn't bet against that person playing meaningful snaps. If that person can play STs, that gets them on the active game day roster. RBs take such a beating that you have to have 2-3, and it's odd for a full stable of backs to make it through a full season.

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PeteK's picture

April 14, 2020 at 08:28 am

I can't judge the contract until I see how much was guaranteed. Whatever it is, he deserves it. He does it all and has shown durability.

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TarynsEyes's picture

April 14, 2020 at 01:15 pm

Many players get paid while their production is suspect, based on interpretation of the stats, and reasoning is often manufactured to a degree for its justification, Amazing when a player actually DESERVES the money being paid, those that find a way to justify the former find easier a reason to disagree with the latter. Which is usually, 'We wouldn't pay that' while demanding same for a player on their team, if they had one, of course.

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AmericanJackal's picture

April 14, 2020 at 01:39 pm

The Pack doesn’t value the RB position. Jones will walk and Ty Montgomery 2.0 will arrive. Rodgers contract will ensure Jones isn’t resigned, too bad he couldn’t be like Brees and take a team friendly contract. Oh well, Rodgers is the one hitter quitter Super Bowl wise.

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dobber's picture

April 14, 2020 at 02:30 pm

You can point to Rodgers, but his 2020 cap hit is only $21.6M, 16th at QB. In 2021, he moves up to 3rd at $36M, but there will be a signing or two that will move him down the list, yet. It's all committed money, whether it goes to in a big lump to one guy or gets parsed out to lots of guys...Rodgers, Adams, Clark, the Smiths, etc. When you have young players, they're all lining up for a payday. Can't pay them all.

I have no problem replacing Jones if he prices himself off the team. Some RBs are self-made. Others are products of the system. Take care of the OL, find a RB with good skills and a low price tag, and let the system work.

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PeteK's picture

April 14, 2020 at 06:29 pm

Niners proved that , UGH!

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13TimeChamps's picture

April 14, 2020 at 05:12 pm

Remind me again....how many Super Bowls has Brees won? Based on your comment, many more than Rodgers, I presume.

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AmericanJackal's picture

April 15, 2020 at 07:10 am

They both have Uno, I got you. The difference is Brees is a gunslinger and Rodgers is a diva. We all watched Rodgers get irritated when Jones scored and took attention away from him. I give it another season before the diva has issues with his new coach.

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Lphill's picture

April 14, 2020 at 02:04 pm

Good for him but way too much money , he takes a beating , how many seasons can he keep it up.

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