‘Carolina, I will always love you’: Panthers trade RB Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers

In sports strategy, it makes sense for the Panthers, who have multiple needs.
Panthers fans around the city are speaking their minds after the star running back was traded.
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 5:39 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2022 at 5:59 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In a move that has stunned fans and many in the sports world, the Carolina Panthers have traded star running back Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey, who has been a fan favorite and one of the best players ever to don a Panthers uniform, is going to the San Francisco 49ers who have been in desperate need of a running game.

Scott Fiterer, the Panthers’ general manager, said Friday it was a tough decision to let McCaffrey go, but ultimately it was the right call.

“It just got to a point where, we thought, this was what was best for the organization moving forward, that this is the right move. It’s a tough move because when you have someone of Christian’s stature in the community, the type of player he is, the type of person he is, it’s really tough,” Fiterer said.

The team announced McCaffrey's trade to the San Francisco 49ers around midnight.

In exchange for trading McCaffrey, the Panthers are getting several draft picks - a second, third, and fourth-round pick in 2023 and a fifth-round pick in 2024.

In sports strategy, it makes sense for the Panthers, who have multiple needs.

McCaffrey is considered one of the best all-around backs in NFL history. He was the fastest player in the franchise to reach 3,000 rushing yards and 3,000 receiving yards.

He was the Panthers’ best chance to get the best trade possible. It may hurt the Panthers in the short run but in the long run, it makes football sense. The Panthers are 1-5 this season and there’s a good chance they could get the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft.

McCaffrey was drafted eighth overall by the Panthers in the 2017 draft and was a superstar in his first season.

He has the most career receiving yards (3,015), receptions (357), receiving touchdowns (17), and receiving first downs (164) by a running back in franchise history.

Multiple injuries, however, have taken their toll in recent years. McCaffrey only played 10 games from 2020 to 2021, missing 23 of 33 regular season games. He has played in every game this season.

In a Friday morning tweet, McCaffrey said he’s “forever grateful” to all who made the last 5+ years so special.

“Carolina, I will always love you,” McCaffrey said.

The trade sends McCaffrey back to the Bay Area, where he starred in college at Stanford.

It comes after the Panthers traded wide receiver Robbie Anderson to the Arizona Cardinals last week. That trade made news, but nothing to the extent the trade of McCaffery is having.

Related: Cardinals acquire WR Robbie Anderson from Panthers

At Bank of America Stadium, the crowds haven’t been showing up as much lately. The morale is low, and now probably the most recognizable face on the team is gone.

“Changed my loyalty to the team. They traded the best two best players - Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson. They traded them. So, who do they have now?” fan Carsey Wilder said.

Longtime Panthers fan Casey Wood said while he likes McCaffrey and called him a great running back, he’s more focused on the team as a whole.

“I’m from North Carolina, I’ve always been a Panthers fan, so if the team, if we can grow it’s beneficial,” Wood said. “Hate to lose him, but if we can gain like a team as whole. We need more than a running back; we need a quarterback, we need an offensive line, a defensive line.”