Christian McCaffrey Opens Up on Carolina Trading Him to San Francisco

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After dealing with a number of injuries in back-to-back years, there was a lot of pressure on Christian McCaffrey to stay healthy and perform at a high level in 2022 for the Carolina Panthers.  The two sides agreed to a four-year, $64M contract extension in April of 2020 and in those two seasons after the deal, he appeared in only ten games. When you couple his inability to stay on the field and the team’s 10-23 record, uncertainty hovered over McCaffrey’s future with the team.

Trade rumors began last spring, going into the summer, and eventually crept into the first few weeks of the regular season. Ironically, Matt Rhule was fired following a blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the team that McCaffrey would be traded to just twelve days later.

Surprisingly, Carolina’s run game actually improved following the move as interim head coach Steve Wilks committed to a run-first approach on offense with D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard leading the charge. Not only did the Panthers find a strong backfield duo, but they got a haul of picks in return for CMC. In the end, it was a trade that worked out for everyone involved; the Panthers, Niners, McCaffrey, and even Foreman.

Recently, McCaffrey opened up about the trade during an interview on Bussin’ With The Boys in which he described the moments leading up to it and his feelings on the move when it happened.  “You hear about it, but for me, I never thought I’d get traded. I thought I was a Panthers forever. Like, I bought a house there, this is home. I had heard the rumors in the offseason, so obviously I called the GM [Scott Fitterer] and I’m like hey man, I just need to hear it from you. I need truth. And he was super honest.

He was like, look, absolutely not. We don’t want to do this, but we’ll listen to everything. And that’s fair. I’m like just let me know. But I went into the season, I’m all-in. It is what it is. I legitimately forgot about that. I play in four of five games and the rumors had continue to go on and Coach Rhule got fired and we had lost a few games in a row. I was like if this is going to happen, this is how it happens. We played L.A., it was the first game with Coach Wilks and we lost.

I had a pretty good game though and I just remember my agent saying it could happen this week, but I don’t think so. The week kept going and going and there was more of a chance and I was like, look, if it’s going to happen, make it happen. 11:30 p.m. I get a call trading me to the Niners. 7 a.m. flight didn’t say bye to one person. Practiced with the Niners Friday and try to scramble together a few plays in a little package to go play the Chiefs on Sunday.

“It’s a weird deal because there’s so many emotions. First emotion is probably anger. Like, man, you guys don’t want me anymore. That’s really what it is. You can call it what it is. Well, they got a lot for you. It’s like, nah, you think you’re better off without me. So you get that, so you’re pissed off. Then you’re excited, but you got two days. I just think there’s so many emotions that get flooded at you at once that you’re not really able to address because they give you the playbook as soon as you get there and you’re like sh*t that’s…I gotta get going. I don’t even know if I’ve completely decompressed yet.”

Interestingly enough, McCaffrey felt like the Panthers still had a chance to contend despite the 1-4 start. It was another reason why he was upset that the team had decided to move on from him.  “I legitimately thought we could still win because we had a really hard first part of the schedule.

So there was a few games in there where we were like, you hope you win these games and you want to win these games but you got a new quarterback, a new offense, it’s going to come with some growing pains. I really believed we could still win. So in the back of my head, we could be one of those Miami teams that wins nine straight later in the year. And they kind of ended up getting in the mix. So it wasn’t like, ‘oh hell yeah I’m out’ after I got traded. I loved Charlotte. It came with a lot of mixed emotions.”


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