What should teams do with star running backs that cannot stay healthy?
The Carolina Panthers have had one bumpy season. At the start of the season the Panthers were 3-0 and seemed to finally be a competitor in their division again. But in that 3rd game Christian McCaffrey left with an injury. The Panthers would have to play five games before the star running back would be back in action. During this five-game span they also had some issues at quarterback, having to bench Sam Darnold because of poor performance. When Darnold came back the next game in Week 8, he only threw for 129 yards and no touchdowns.
I am just trying to make a point here that the Panthers have had some serious quarterback issues up to this point. Finally, we are in Week 9 with the return of Christian McCaffrey and he doesn’t play too well. But I will cut him some slack for this game, considering he is just coming off an injury. Then in Week 10, we got a glimpse of 2019 McCaffrey again despite him still not reaching 100 yards rushing on the season.
Then in Week 11 he had another poor performance for his standards. I would think that with all the quarterback issues you would want to lean on your star running back, but he only got 10 carries in that game. Then in Week 12, the injury bug attacked McCaffrey again, leaving him out for the rest of the season. This means that in the last twi full seasons, Christian McCaffrey has only played in 10 games with less than 700 yards in that time.
Along with him being very injury prone, he really hasn’t been great running the ball since the first half of the 2019 season where he had his most recent 100-yard rushing game. If any Panther fans are reading this, I am sorry, but you have got to get him out of there, especially when you can get someone with a lot more value. Of course, now we must wait until the offseason for the Panthers to make a move, but I think they should have pulled the trigger at the deadline.
I made a point earlier in the story about the Panthers’ quarterback issues, and there is one quarterback that comes to mind that was very gettable with the right offer at the deadline. Yes, that is controversial quarterback Deshaun Watson, and there were rumors that this exact trade was possible at the time. But then we saw reports that they couldn’t reach an agreement. I think the fault goes onto the Panthers here. Finding a franchise quarterback is not an easy task, but finding a good running back, really isn’t. Running back is the most replaceable position in the NFL in my opinion. In fact, you don’t even need a first-round pick to get an amazing running back.
Names like Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb and Jonathan Taylor are all 2nd round picks and beyond. Basically, what I am saying is, Christian McCaffrey is replaceable, but it’s harder to get a franchise quarterback. And the Panthers missed that shot. Now with another injury for McCaffrey, his value is going to drop even more, it’s going to be lower than it has ever been.
So you can kiss that Deshaun Watson trade goodbye, unless you want to add an extra pick or two to make up for the decreased value of McCaffrey. If I were the Panthers, I would start looking at teams that can take in McCaffrey’s contract, and I would just take some picks. I don’t think keeping him is worth the risk anymore for the Panthers. You had your fun in 2019 with him, but I think it is time to start rebuilding the offense around a new piece. Hopefully a piece that can play more than 10 games in two seasons.