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Should the Panthers Consider Moving McCaffrey to Wide Receiver?

The Panthers must find a way to keep McCaffrey on the field. Is switching positions a possibility?

Christian McCaffrey has played in a total of ten games since Matt Rhule became the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. As they always say, availability is your best ability and the number of injuries that McCaffrey has suffered over the past two years has led to his name being mentioned in trade rumors.

Shortly after the season ended, Panthers GM Scott Fitterer broke the silence on where they stand on McCaffrey. 

"I told him what was the truth and what was not the truth. I think there was a report back in November that we were actively trying to trade him and that was not true. What I did tell him though is as a GM, I'll take any call. You can call and make any offer you want. That doesn't mean we're going to do it. That doesn't mean we're shopping you. I'll listen. I look at Christian as a foundation piece on this team, one of those building blocks. We're a better team when he's on the field. He's one of the elite players in the NFL. I would love for him to be here but I would never not take a call. If somebody calls and offers something crazy, yeah, you would look at it but there is no intentions right now of trading Christian McCaffrey."

Prior to the 2020 season, McCaffrey had not missed a single game in his NFL career and had missed only one game dating back to his college days at Stanford. Historically, he's been a very durable back considering the volume of touches he has racked up. However, it might be time to consider moving him to the slot. I know, it seems like a bold move to take arguably the best running back in the league out of his natural position but it may be what it extends his career and keeps him on the field the most. The Panthers are paying McCaffrey a ton of money for a running back but as Matt Rhule has stated many times before,"he's more than just a running back". 

This league is all about matchups and if new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo can put McCaffrey in the slot matched up on a linebacker seemingly all game long, it's going to be a long day for the opposing defense. He's a terrific route runner already and knows how to attack a defensive back's leverage to put his man in a vulnerable spot. Although they are completely different players, McCaffrey could be used in a similar way to Deebo Samuel of the 49ers. As the season moved along Samuel lined up more and more in the backfield while also being the team's No. 1 receiving threat. This would save a large number of hits on McCaffrey but it doesn't take the ball out of his hands. Throwing him in the backfield for 8-10 carries a game will keep defenses off balanced. 

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During McCaffrey's exit interview with the media, which can be seen at the top of this article, he gave a little smile in his response when asked if there have been any discussions about moving to receiver and said, "No."

Those conversations may come about at some point this offseason as Ben McAdoo will find the best ways to get him involved as much as possible but for now, it seems like McCaffrey is likely to stay put in the backfield.

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