Matt Rhule: Christian McCaffrey is more “than just a running back”

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The Panthers reset the running back market by agreeing to terms with Christian McCaffrey on a four-year extension that will pay him $16 million per season.

But for those who argue that teams shouldn’t pay running backs big money, the Panthers say they don’t view McCaffrey as “just a running back.”

“I don’t look at him as just a running back,” new Panthers coach Matt Rhule said on WFNZ on Tuesday afternoon. “We see him as a weapon. He can be a wideout, running back and returner. He’s not a player who you can pigeonhole.”

McCaffrey became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. Only Roger Craig in 1985 and Marshall Faulk in 1999 previously had accomplished the feat.

McCaffrey, 23, had 2,392 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns on 403 touches. All three led the league last season.

As Jourdan Rodrigue of TheAthletic.com pointed out, McCaffrey finished the past two seasons as the top receiver based on targets as well as the team’s leading rusher.

McCaffrey still will be heavily involved in Joe Brady’s offense, especially given what the Panthers are paying him. But McCaffrey’s snap counts might decrease slightly after he saw action on 91 percent of the offensive snaps in 2018 and 93 percent last season.

“We want to put a lot of weapons around Teddy [Bridgewater],” Rhule said on WFNZ. “I don’t think it’ll be a situation where [McCaffrey] stays on the field the entire game.”