Christian McCaffrey just got a pay bump from the Carolina Panthers that makes him the highest-paid running back in the NFL at $16 million per season. McCaffrey will sign a four-year extension with a fifth-year option.

Christian McCaffrey Carolina Panthers Highest Paid RB
Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey evades a tackler on the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome. (Image: Streeter Lecka/Getty)

McCaffrey, 23, has two more seasons remaining on his initial rookie deal. He will earn $75 million over his next six seasons with the extension. After the LA Rams cut Todd Gurley, McCaffrey becomes the highest-paid RB in the NFL.

At $16 million per year, McCaffrey’s deal surpasses Ezekiel Elliot’s contract with the Dallas Cowboys and Le’Veon Bell’s hefty contract with the New York Jets. Elliot will earn $15 million next season, while Bell’s take-home pay is $14.1 million with Gang Green.

1. Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers) $16 million
2. Zeke Elliot (Dallas Cowboys) $15 million
3. Le’Veon Bell (New York Jets) $14.1 million
4. David Johnson (Houston Texans) $13 million
5. Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans) $10.3 million

“I’m so excited to continue my career in Carolina,” McCaffrey told ESPN. “I want to thank Mr. David Tepper, Marty Hurney, and coach Matt Rhule for the opportunity to help lead this great franchise, and to all my teammates for their help along the way. And to Panthers fans, keep pounding!”

The Panthers drafted McCaffrey out of Stanford with the #8 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

McCaffrey’s father, Ed, played wide receiver with the Denver Broncos.

Changing of the Guard in the Queen City

The Carolina Panthers went 5-11 during a disappointing 2019 season. It was a tumultuous season for the Panthers, but excellence from McCaffrey on the field remained the sole constant for a team in flux. The franchise transitioned from the old guard by firing head coach “Riverboat” Ron Rivera and ex-MVP QB, Cam Newton.

Since then, the Panthers brought in highly-touted head coach Matt Rhule and signed free agent Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. And now, they’ve locked up a bona fide MVP-candidate in McCaffrey.

Rhule turned around a floundering program at Baylor in a very short time. He almost became the head coach of the New York Jets last offseason, but they hired Adam Gase instead.

“CMAC really builds to the culture you want to have within the building,” said new head coach, Matt Rhule. “We want to be a serious football place. We want to be a place that is all about the game. That’s who Christian McCaffrey is.”

1K + 1K = 99 Madden

Rhule, well aware of McCaffrey and his dual-threat abilities, can’t wait to let him flourish under a new offensive system.

“To label him a running back, that’s not respectful to him,” explained Rhule. “He’s a tailback/wideout. He can do it all. I’m anxious to get him out there and to continue to build this thing around him.”

McCaffrey reached a rare milestone last season when he became only the third player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and catch for 1,000 yards. Roger Craig (1985) and Marshall Faulk (1999) are the only other players who achieved that double-pronged feat.

Last season, McCaffrey rushed for 1,387 yards for third-best in the NFL. McCaffrey also ranked #3 in the league in rushing touchdowns with 15. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry. He also caught 116 receptions for 1,005 yards and four more touchdowns. Overall, McCaffrey tallied 2,392 yards and combined for 19 touchdowns.

In his second season in 2018, McCaffrey rushed for 1,098 yards with seven rushing scores and six receiving touchdowns.

During the 2019 season, EA Sports upgraded McCaffrey’s in-game rating for the popular Madden NFL video game. McCaffrey joined the exclusive 99 Club, which is a rare distinction and the highest honor a player can get in Madden.

After back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, McCaffrey becomes the highest-paid RB in the NFL.