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Panthers coach Matt Rhule believes Christian McCaffrey is ‘more than just a running back’

Christian McCaffrey, Panthers

After a spectacular third season in the NFL, Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey was rewarded with a four-year extension that will pay him $16 million per season — making him the highest-paid running back in league history.

However, while McCaffrey has undoubtedly cemented himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL, new Panthers head coach Matt Rhule believes he’s more than that.

“I don’t look at him as just a running back,” Rhule said on WFNZ on Tuesday afternoon via Pro Football Talk. “We see him as a weapon. He can be a wideout, running back and returner. He’s not a player who you can pigeonhole.”

After recording his first 1,000-yard rushing season in 2018, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound superstar took his game to the next level this past season. The former Stanford standout recorded 1,387 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

However, a big part of McCaffrey’s impact comes in his ability to catch the ball. McCaffrey’s 303 catches in his first three seasons are the most by any player in their first three years in NFL history.

In 2019, McCaffrey caught 116 passes for 1,005 yards and an additional four touchdowns, which led to the 23-year-old running back becoming just the third player in league history to record 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season joining Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk.

As for Rhule, the 45-year-old will be entering his first year as an NFL head coach after spending the last seven years at the collegiate ranks coaching for both Temple and Baylor University. New Carolina Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady will have the opportunity to optimize McCaffrey’s talent for the first time this season as well.