The Carolina Panthers signed Christian McCaffrey to a four-year $64 million extension Monday, making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history.
While the total value of the deal doesn’t match Ezekiel Elliott’s six-year $90 million contract, McCaffrey’s average annual salary ($16 million) outpaced Elliott’s ($15 million).
“This is fantastic for Christian McCaffrey, and I think it’s really good for the running back position,” former NFL running back Tiki Barber said on Tiki & Tierney, reacting to the breaking news in real time. “Obviously [he’s] the best dual-purpose guy that there is in the NFL right now. If you want to talk about value at the position, I don’t know who’s greater than him given his durability, his health, and his 1,000-1,000 season that he put up.”
McCaffrey, 23, has rushed for 1,000+ yards and recorded 100+ receptions in each of the last two seasons. In 2019, he joined Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk as the third player in NFL history to record 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season.
McCaffrey, the eighth overall pick in 2017, will again be the centerpiece of the Panthers’ offense next season.
“My gut is this [contract] is very similar to what the Los Angeles Rams did with Todd Gurley,” Barber said. “You do this deal early with the fourth year of his rookie contract plus the fifth-year option kind of stolen. You steal those two years. I think that’s probably $11 million or so that you’re stealing and sticking into this new deal and then giving him essentially a two-year extension off the fifth-year option. That’s what I’m going to assume this deal is so it protects you a little bit on the backside, so it’s not like he’s signing for five years, but four years.
“But let’s face it: At $2.8 million or so that he was due next season, he was woefully underpaid for the production he was putting up,” Barber continued. “So, sometimes teams like the Carolina Panthers do actually do the right thing and didn’t make this become a dramatic circumstance like we saw with Zeke and the Cowboys when he held out for all of training camp.”