The Panthers took Christian McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, then made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL three years later. But the Panthers’ offense didn’t miss a beat with McCaffrey out for the last six games.
That’s because Mike Davis, whom the Panthers claimed off waivers a year ago, has stepped in and done everything Carolina needs of a running back.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Panthers have two running backs who can get the job done now that McCaffrey has been cleared to return.
“The great thing we’ve found now is we have Christian back, but we also have Mike Davis, and so we have two running backs that can play at the highest level. We don’t have to push one guy to play too much. I think we have two tremendous weapons,” Rhule said. “I think Christian will be back out there for us, I think he’ll play as hard as he can as much as he can, but on the flip side we also have Mike Davis, and that’s the best of both worlds to me.”
Rhule wasn’t intending to make a statement about the replaceability of running backs, but he made that case well. The Panthers are one of many NFL teams that have had success with low-cost running backs this season, raising the question of why any team ever invests a Top 10 pick and a top-flight contract in a player who plays a position where adequate replacements can be found on the waiver wire.