Author: Milos Ljubic
Hi everyone, my name is Milos. This is my first article for the Dynasty Owner. I hope that this will be good for a start and that I will continue to write in the future.
As I wrote in the title, the subject of this article will be Christian McCaffrey’s new contract. As we all know, McCaffrey was the best (non-QB) fantasy player in the 2019 season and his new contract will be very interesting for the next few seasons.
McCaffrey signed a 4 years extension worth 64 million dollars. In reality this new 6-year contract is worth 78 million. Let’s explain this. McCaffrey was the first-round pick in the 2017 draft. He was selected from the 8th position. According to the rules, a first-round pick can sign the first extension after the third season. Also, teams have an option for a 5th-year extension for first-round picks. That is the case here. In the 2020 season, McCaffrey is under his rookie deal worth 0.8M, plus 2.7M prorated bonus. (For Dynasty Owners this numbers is 4.3M which is the annual amount of his rookie contract.) And as a rule, the 5th-year option for first-round running back who played one Pro bowl has a value of transition tag of somewhere around 10.4M dollars. Technically, the extension starts from the season 2022. When a player signs an extension like this, it means that he can restructure the last year of a rookie deal, the 5th year and the extension. According to the Overthecap, cap hit for the next five years will be 7,8M; 12.5M; 12.9M; 16.3M; 16.3M respectively and 12.2M in the 2025 season. Guaranteed money on signing is 30.1M dollars, but on the 5th day of the 2021 season, that number will rise to 38.2M. We can be 100% sure this will happen.
How has McCaffrey deserved this contact? McCaffrey is the third player in the NFL history with 1000 running + 1000 receiving season. Before him, the only ones who achieved that were Roger Craig in the 1985 season playing for the 49ers and Marshal Faulk in the 1999 season playing for the Rams. He has set a few all-time NFL records so far. McCaffrey is the first running back with over 2500 as a rusher and 2500 as a receiver in the first three seasons in the NFL. He has the most receptions by a running back in a single season and holds a few others records.
The main questions are how does this affect you in Dynasty Owner and how will it affect your salary cap. If you already have McCaffrey on the roster, you are in a great position. McCaffery’s cap number for the next season is 4.3M. McCaffery was the best (non-QB) fantasy player for the 2019 season. He is projected to be the second-best fantasy player for the 2020 season. Lamar Jackson is projected as the first and Pat Mahomes as third. You will have a whole season to decide what you want to do with his new contract. You can trade him during the season if you receive an offer that will satisfy you. If you decide to keep him through the end of a season, you will have the option to drop him for free. Or you can continue with him and his new contract. The more interesting question is how this affects new players. To find the answer to that question, we need to analyze a few things.
McCaffrey is now the face of the Carolina Panthers franchise. Carolina fired Ron Rivera after 9 years and one appearance in Superbowl. Luke Kuechly retired. Cam Newton and Greg Olsen were fired too. Carolina is in rebuilding mode. They gave a 7-year contract to the new head coach, Matt Rhule. How does the new Carolina team look after the new changes? Teddy Bridgewater is the new QB and that is an upgrade for sure. The OL from the 2019 season was average. OL was changed, only two starters from 2019 season will start next season. Carolina loses both starting guards. Turner was traded for Okung and that move upgraded the tackle position. New guards will come off the bench or from free agency. We can expect that OL will be average and this season. The biggest addition in offense is Roby Anderson from the Jets. With Moore and Samuel, Carolina will have a very good receivers squad. And very young at the same time. These three had almost 200 catches and over 2500 receiving yards. Carolina’s TEs group without Olsen isn’t good, but that won’t be upgraded on a draft. Also, besides McCaffrey, they don’t have a decent 2nd RB. This also won’t be changed. Carolina has too many needs on defense, so we can presume that all draft capital will be invested on that side of the ball.
And what about the division? The NFC South teams, except for Carolina, are in win-now mode. The Saints have a great team, but also have salary cap problems. Drew Brees is 41 years old. Tampa changed the head coach and signed Bruce Arians. They added Tom Brady on a two-year contract. And on Wednesday, they added Rob Gronkowski in a trade with the Patriots. They were solid last year and with this addition, it is expected that they will only get better. The problem with Tampa is Brady’s years. He is 42. Also, we don’t know what we can expect from Gronkowski. When he was healthy, he was the best TE in the league. But that was a few years ago and he didn’t play last year at all. Atlanta is currently an average team, at best. Ryan and Julio are on the wrong side of the 30s. Cap space for the next seasons also isn’t big and Dan Quinn will be under pressure.
Where is McCaffrey compared to the other running backs? McCaffrey is the best dual-threat running back in the NFL for the last 10 years, at least. He is still young. In July he will be 24 years old. When this extension expires, McCaffrey will be only 29 years old. His numbers in the previous two seasons were great. This can be a problem in the future because that means that he is overused. Only 3 RB’s had more carries last season and all three combined had fewer catches than McCaffrey. McCaffrey played almost all snaps for Carolina last season. 99,6% to be precise, according to Spotrac. The second most used RB was Zeke Eliot with 89.3% of snaps. McCaffrey had 407 contacts with the ball. Once again, the second was Eliot with 355 contacts. The good thing about McCaffrey is that he stayed healthy in his career so far. Marshall Faulk, for example, had over 400 contacts with the ball in his 5th season. And in his 6th year, he had a 1000 + 1000 season. In his 7th season, he was the MVP of the regular season and in the 8th season, he had over 2000 scrimmage yards for the fourth time in a row. If Carolina decides to lower the usage of McCaffrey on some 350 contacts with the ball per season, it’s very possible that he can be productive during the next six years.
What if McCaffrey starts to decline with his production? Carolina can release him after the 3rd year, at the earliest. If they release him after the 2022 season, they would save 7.7M in cap space with 8.6M of dead money. If they decide to release him after the 4th season, cap savings after the 2023 season would be 12M, and dead money, in that case, would be the only 4.3M. On the other side, this can be a reason for the concern of owners if they decide to draft/keep McCaffrey on a new contract. If we suppose that McCaffrey can decline to the level of Gurley’s declined last season, McCaffrey probably won’t be cut. Carolina doesn’t have on a roster 35M+ QB, doesn’t have a top-paid defensive player in the league, and doesn’t have CB who is waiting to become the highest-paid player on his position.
Milos Ljubic is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.
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