By Marc Harper | April 16, 2020
When the Rams released Todd Gurley this offseason, it was a signal that NFL teams had learned their lesson on committing big money to running backs. The lesson: Look – twice – before you leap.
In the summer of 2018, the Rams pre-empted the final year and team option of Gurley’s contract and gave him $45 million in guaranteed money. Two years and $20.5 million in dead cap later, Gurley is down in Atlanta.
The Rams aren’t the only culprit. Before him? The Cardinals giving David Johnson three years and $30 million guaranteed. Where is he now? Houston.
Which brings us to Christian McCaffrey. Fresh off of back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing AND 100 reception seasons, the Panthers rewarded him with a 4year, $64 million dollar extension. It’s a terrific deal for McCaffrey, particularly for the position, where many teams simply want younger, faster, and most importantly, cheaper.
But here’s what we’ll be looking at: McCaffrey’s durability. So far, so good.
But keep in mind this is a player that touched the ball over 400 times last year. If he were to play out the remainder of his contract while touching the ball only 300 times a season, he would have touched the ball almost 2,700 times over a 9-year span.
That’s a fairly insane amount of touches, and potential collisions.
If Christian McCaffrey plays the entirety of this contract, both sides are winners obviously. How do they get there? Build an offense around McCaffrey’s strengths, but limit his touches – and we’re sure that’ll happen. Every NFL team now is more cognizant than ever about tread on the tire for each player.
If not? Then there’ll be substantial risk of having another bright young star leave the game before the age of 30.
Since new head coach Matt Rhule signed off on this deal, we are sure he has a very specific plan in mind for preserving McCaffrey’s health. We like Rhule’s potential; he’s a proven winner and builder, so he gets the benefit of the doubt from us.
Congratulations to McCaffrey. We just don’t want to see him in a game either up or down 24 in the mid-4th quarter.
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