Christian McCaffrey missed a grand total of 13 games this past season due to multiple injuries, which forced Mike Davis into the starting role. When healthy, McCaffrey is arguably the best running back in the entire NFL. Now that he's missed an extended period of time for the first time in his career, Carolina should consider adding some depth to the backfield.
When called upon, Mike Davis delivered. He finished the season with 642 rushing yards and six touchdowns and 373 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the air. However, he carried the bulk of the workload once McCaffrey went down and eventually got banged up himself with a thumb injury.
Obviously, the Panthers' No. 1 priority this offseason will be to find a solution to the quarterback issue. Whether it's Teddy Bridgewater (for the time being), Deshaun Watson (via trade), or a young rookie, the Panthers have to be able to have confidence in multiple running backs to help balance out the offense.
Not to mention, Davis is set to become an unrestricted free agent and there's no telling whether he will return to Carolina or seek a starting job elsewhere. Regardless of Davis' decision, Matt Rhule needs to seriously consider adding another body to that running back room.
Who should they target? In terms of the free agent market, I would turn my focus to Gus Edwards (Ravens), Alfred Morris (Giants), and Ty Montgomery (Saints). All three have experienced success in the league and should all be reasonably priced. As for the draft, we won't even bother with the top backs because Carolina has no interest in taking one that high. With that said, you'll have to turn your attention to guys like Michael Carter (North Carolina), Kenneth Gainwell (Memphis), Rhamondre Stevenson (Oklahoma), Trey Sermon (Ohio State), and Elijah Mitchell (Lousiana) who can go in the middle rounds.
Trenton Cannon, Reggie Bonnafon, and Rodney Smith aren't terrible options but when you have a chance to add a third quality back to the mix alongside McCaffrey and Davis, you have to do it.
Free agency begins on March 17th, expect there to be some rumblings surrounding the Panthers and a veteran running back - a cheap one of course.
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