Poll: Would Pats be crazy to swing a deal for McCaffrey?
Christian McCaffrey has quickly become one of the hottest names in the NFL once again, though this time it's not necessarily for anything he's done on the field.
McCaffrey was limited to just 10 games in 2020 and 2021 due to a slew of injuries. During the injury plagued seasons, McCaffrey was limited to 667 rushing yards/6 TD and 54rec/492yds/2td receiving. A far cry from his 2019 season, when he rushed for 1387yds/15td while catching 116 passes for 1005 yards and 4 TD.
But since Matt Rhule's firing on Monday morning, many pundits think it's not entirely unlikely the running back, and other notable pieces on the Panthers' roster, could be part of a fire sale in Carolina. So the question becomes...do you want McCaffrey?
He's still just 26 years old, though in running back years that's probably a lot closer to 30. He's posted 324 yards and 2 TD on 74 attempts on the ground and snagged 26 catches for 188 yards and 1 TD through the first five games this season. That includes back-to-back 100+ yard rushing efforts in weeks two and three.
He also gets paid A LOT of money. He carries a cap hit of $8.785mil this season, a number that will grow to $19.5mil the next two seasons before dropping to $15.45mil in 2025. However, there is an out in his contract that allows the team to get out from under the remaining three years of the deal, but it would require eating $18.352mil in dead cap.
There are some red flags there, no doubt. But the New England Patriots are a team currently playing with one healthy running back - Rhamondre Stevenson. Damien Harris is set to miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury and is already a bit of a lame duck this year as the team declined his 5th year option, making the Alabama product an unrestricted free agent at season's end and unlikely to return to Foxborough in 2023 anyways.
Stevenson should be the guy after what we saw on Sunday vs. Detroit and really what he's been building to since establishing himself last season. But McCaffrey could be a game-changer in multiple roles for what's still a somewhat stagnant Patriots offense. He could serve as the third down back (can you remember the last time the Pats didn't have one?), a slot receiver and form a committee with Stevenson to keep the 2nd-year back fresh.
Peter King, NFL Insider for NBC Sports, said earlier this week that if a team would be willing to eat the majority of McCaffrey's deal, he could be had for a 2nd and 4th round pick in next year's draft. That's not a terrible price to pay for someone who three years ago was the most dynamic playmaker in the league.
Of course, the issue is money. The Pats currently have just under $3.3mil in available cap room, but there's plenty of useless money littered across the roster (I'm looking at you, Jonnu Smith and Nelson Agholor). I'll never be concerned when spending a billionaire's money if it means improving the team. Plus, the cap is basically fake money anyways. As we see all the time throughout the NFL, it can be manipulated however you want it to be.
So, if it was as simple as sending Harris, a '23 2nd rounder and a '23 4th rounder to Carolina for McCaffrey, would you make that deal?