Sources: Panthers listening to CMC trade offers

  • ESPN NFL Insider
  • Joined ESPN in 2009
  • Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books

The Carolina Panthers are listening to other teams about a potential trade for star running back Christian McCaffrey, although a deal might not be easy to complete, league sources tell ESPN.

The Panthers rebuffed at least two teams’ inquiries into trading for McCaffrey last week and will continue to reject overtures they don’t consider significant offers, according to sources.

Listening hardly means the team is dealing McCaffrey. If the Panthers do not receive what they feel is a real offer — with a high draft pick or multiple picks — they are adamant that they will hold on to McCaffrey past the NFL’s Nov. 1 trade deadline, sources told ESPN.

What makes McCaffrey so attractive to other teams — aside from his talent — is his contract situation. During the spring, the former Pro Bowler lowered his base salary for the 2022 season to just $1.035 million — meaning any team that acquires him in a trade would have no issues squeezing his contract under its salary cap.

McCaffrey’s base salary jumps back up next season to $11.8 million, but any team that trades for him could figure out how it wanted to handle his contract during the offseason.

The bigger obstacle to completing a McCaffrey trade would be persuading the Panthers to move on from a marquee player they are prepared to carry into next season at his full salary if they don’t receiver a suitable offer by the deadline.

Carolina is scheduled to have only four selections in next year’s NFL draft: its own picks in the first, second, fourth and fifth rounds. The Panthers’ third- and sixth-round picks belong to the Patriots from the Stephon Gilmore trade last September, and their seventh-round pick went to the Jaguars this August as part of the deal for wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.

McCaffrey is not the only player the Panthers have expressed little interest in trading. Carolina also appears unwilling to trade defensive stalwarts Derrick Brown and Brian Burns despite interest around the league.

One player the Panthers are open to moving, according to sources, is wide receiver Robbie Anderson, who played for former head coach Matt Rhule at Temple. The Panthers have had conversations with other teams about Anderson, and he remains a strong potential deadline trade candidate.

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