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Why the Panthers shouldn’t consider trading Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey, Panthers

On Wednesday, a Pro Football Focus analyst took to Twitter to suggest that the rebuilding Carolina Panthers should look into trading running back Christian McCaffrey, citing the fact that McCaffrey’s value will never be higher than it is now.

While it may seem blasphemous at first glance, it is not an entirely baseless proposal.

The Panthers are clearly not ready to win now, and running backs are typically one of the easiest positions to fill. Yes, McCaffrey is a special case, but you can generally win without a top-tier halfback. Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs.

All of that being said, Carolina should hang on to McCaffrey for now, particularly if it plans to take a quarterback with the seventh overall pick of the NFL Draft next month.

The Panthers actually have some decent weapons in the form of McCaffrey and wide receiver D.J. Moore, but take McCaffrey away, and suddenly, the options become fairly barren outside of Moore.

I’m not sure that’s how Carolina would want to break in a new quarterback.

Of course, we don’t know for sure if the Panthers will be taking a signal-caller in April. Some have suggested they could take an offensive line or work on their defense, which are certainly possibilities.

Also, Cam Newton is still in play. Will he be with the team much longer? Probably not, but what if Carolina opts to keep him and he steps in and has a rebound year in 2020?

Those are all things the Panthers should consider, which is, again, why shopping McCaffrey is not a crazy thought.

But the most probable scenario for Carolina seems to be that it will take a quarterback with its first-round pick, and even if Newton stays around for another year, whichever signal-caller the Panthers draft (probably Justin Herbert) will almost certainly take the reins in 2021.

It’s very, very important to surround young quarterbacks with strong weapons early on. Say what you want about the New York Giants, but they have supplied Daniel Jones with some pretty fine offensive talent. The Arizona Cardinals may not have Saquon Barkley, but they have numerous running backs and a decent group of young receivers for Kyler Murray.

That should be one of Carolina’s goals right now, and obviously, McCaffrey is the most prominent threat the club has.

Yes, McCaffrey could fetch a rather hefty return, which could allow the Panthers could fill other needs. Yes, running backs aren’t really all that valuable in the grand scheme of things.

But man; trying to trade a back as special as Christian McCaffrey is a tough sell. He will be just 24 years old at the start of next season, and he is already one of the top three halfbacks in football (at worst).

I understand that that is part of the reasoning as to why Carolina should gauge the market for him, because running backs usually have short shelf lives, but I can’t get behind the Panthers trading McCaffrey.

Not when a young quarterback may be taking over.