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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Why a 49ers trade for Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey is realistic

Rohan Chakravarthi
Oct 18, 2022 at 3:00 PM--

Earlier last week, following the firing of head coach Matt Rhule, reports surfaced about the Carolina Panthers receiving trade calls from several NFL teams, including some about star running back Christian McCaffrey, according to CBS insider Jonathan Jones.

"Teams have been calling the Panthers about some of their veteran players. Carolina is a distressed asset in the NFL world, and with two weeks to go before the trade deadline, wouldn't it want to send off some of its hefty contracts before presumably starting over again in 2023?"

While Jones mentioned that the Panthers haven't engaged in serious trade talks, teams are calling about McCaffrey, and one of the interested suitors is the San Francisco 49ers.

"And while teams are calling about Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers have not engaged in any serious trade talks. Carolina isn't just going to give away one of the league's best weapons when healthy. The Broncos, 49ers, Rams and Bills are among the teams that have shown varying degrees of interest in McCaffrey."

Those reports have only gained traction as ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler reported that the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams are potential suitors for the running back in an article on Tuesday.

With the rumors gaining steam, many believe that trading for McCaffrey is unrealistic for the 49ers, due to his financial situation, as the running back signed a four-year, $64 million extension with the Panthers in 2020.

Here's why the 49ers can actually make the move financially, making the blockbuster trade more realistic than anticipated, should McCaffrey be moved prior to the trade deadline.

McCaffrey's restructure

Earlier this offseason, McCaffrey agreed to a restructure with the Panthers, converting $7.365 million of his $8.4 million base salary into a signing bonus, creating $5.52 million in cap space for Carolina.

That move lowered the running back's base salary to a meager $1.035 million for 2022, which would be the cost that an acquiring team would have to pay should they move for McCaffrey, instead of the $8.78 million cap hit that he currently holds for 2022.

Currently, the 49ers have $5.3 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap, meaning they'd be able to financially fit McCaffrey under the cap without an additional move, as the halfback's cost would be just $1.035 million for the entire year, with the exact figure coming at an even lower rate, depending on when the trade occurs.

So, for 2022 specifically, the 49ers actually can financially fit McCaffrey under the cap easily, contrary to many beliefs.

McCaffrey's overall contract

Following the 2022 season, Christian McCaffrey does have three years and $35.6 million remaining on his four-year extension, which could be alarming to some for an oft-injured running back, who would be 29 at the end of the deal.

However, once again, there's a caveat in his contract that makes the situation much more flexible than people believe.

Over the three years, McCaffrey has just $1 million in guaranteed money remaining, meaning that an acquiring team could opt out of his contract at the end of the season with minimal financial loss should they choose to.

But, the likelier option would be to keep McCaffrey at his price for the next few seasons should he continue to perform, and with that, an acquiring team has flexibility.

If cap space is needed in the following years, an acquiring team could, once again, restructure McCaffrey's contract by converting his $11.8 million base salary into a signing bonus, which would spread over the remaining years of the contract.

Or, should McCaffrey look for more guaranteed money over the final years of his deal, the two sides could reach a restructure that increases the amount of guaranteed money at the expense of the overall salary, creating a win-win situation.

Regardless, the main point is that an acquiring team has several options with McCaffrey's contract, given its current structure, which is why it's realistic for the 49ers to acquire him.

Now, this doesn't mean that San Francisco is currently the favorite to trade for McCaffrey, nor does it mean that the running back will even be moved. But, it's important to note the realistic factor behind it, which starts with the financials.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Derrell
    I'd rather have d.johnson from Cleveland, I think he would fit perfect .
    Oct 19, 2022 at 11:21 AM
  • Paul
    I won’t be surprised if he ends up on the Rams, because apparently they are better at manipulating the cap and draft. CM isn’t expensive if you want him for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, the 49ers don’t have any first round pick to trade; which is looking bad thus far. Think if the 49ers just held their spot and got Parsons on the defense.
    Oct 19, 2022 at 10:12 AM
  • NA
    That’s why I don’t read your articles anymore. Nonsense
    Oct 19, 2022 at 9:36 AM
  • BigAl
    I think Carolinas asking price is going to be too high, not sure anybody will pay it. They're in line for a QB so it would probably be foolish of them to trade away CM or DJ Moore but it really depends on what kind of timeline they end up operating on. Adding CM is one of the single most impactful moves the 49ers offense could make. If he actually were to stay healthy I dont believe any NFC teams would really want to play us in December and January
    Oct 18, 2022 at 6:20 PM
  • Greggis Khan
    I'd rather have Derrick Brown.
    Oct 18, 2022 at 6:10 PM
  • Erich
    Yeah, more injury pron expensive players is what we need, lol
    Oct 18, 2022 at 4:00 PM


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