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Panthers give Christian McCaffrey big extension

Mike Florio and Chris Simms draft the best players in the NFC South, including Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey, Saints WR Michael Thomas and more.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule said last week he considered Christian McCaffrey more than just a running back.

It’s a good thing, because he’s now paying him like a couple of players.

PFT has confirmed that the Panthers are signing their versatile back to a four-year extension worth $16 million a year, which makes him the highest-paid back in the league.

Ezekiel Elliott previously held that claim with $14.5 million per year on the new four years of his extension with the Cowboys last fall.

In addition to securing one of their top players (2,392 combined yards from scrimmage last year), it’s also a statement of intent for a Panthers team largely viewed as rebuilding under their first year coach.

“To label him a tailback, that’s not respectful to him. He’s a tailback-slash-wideout. He can do it all — returner,” Rhule said last week. “So I’m anxious to get him out there, I’m anxious to continue to build this thing around him. I think he’s going to be a special player for us. But contracts and all that stuff, Marty [Hurney, their General Manager], I know he handles those things.”

With McCaffrey, wide receivers D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, and new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the Panthers have a chance to have a competent offense.

The other side of the ball is another question, and Rhule may need to rely on his Big 12 background in high-scoring games.