Scoop City: Christian McCaffrey’s $19M Contract and Its Implications

Scoop City is The Athletic’s daily NFL newsletter. Ever revisit the Panthers trading away Christian McCaffrey? It wasn’t pretty for Carolina, who turned the All-Pro into a third-round pick and sweeteners for three trade-ups. But hey, at least they had cap space for Miles Sanders.

Today’s NFL update:

• 💵 McCaffrey’s new deal
• 👀 Implications for Aiyuk
• 🎙 First-round QB quotes
• 📽 Defensive coordinators, questioned
• What Dianna’s Hearing: Christian McCaffrey gets his wishAs we’ve mentioned, Christian McCaffrey wasn’t attending voluntary OTAs due to his desire for a new deal, which was known internally. The 49ers made sure they kept their guy — who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last year with 2,023 — happy. Yesterday, we learned McCaffrey is signing a two-year extension averaging $19 million per year. His previous $16 million average was already tops among running backs. A new deal and a wedding this summer for McCaffrey, who turns 28 on Friday.

Implications of McCaffrey’s contract
After seeing McCaffrey get paid, I looked into two things:

1. Did this open enough cap space to sign WR Brandon Aiyuk?
San Francisco had already planned for a potential Aiyuk deal, backloaded using mechanisms similar to McCaffrey’s. The bigger question is long-term space, based on the NFL salary cap size and potential new contracts.

2. Did the 49ers overpay, given the running back market?
While elite running backs aren’t a necessity for Super Bowl wins, McCaffrey’s impact is unparalleled. The 49ers’ investment in him hopes to secure team control and continued success on the field.

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