After firing head coach Matt Rhule at the start of Week 6, the Carolina Panthers are headed toward an offseason of change.
Star running back Christian McCaffrey might find himself packing for a new home before the end of the year. McCaffrey is receiving the most significant interest from teams, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday, and the running back was asked about his future on Wednesday.
Unsurprisingly, McCaffrey didn't have much to say.
"Keeping that away from me. That's out of my control," McCaffrey said, per The Athletic. "Trying to control everything I can control. … Right now I'm a Carolina Panther and giving my all to this place."
McCaffrey has been nothing but a model employee for the Panthers, breaking the 1,000-1,000 mark in rushing and receiving yards in 2019, his last season of significant contribution. Since then, injuries have repeatedly undercut McCaffrey's hopes of maintaining his role as a key figure in the Panthers' plans.
The running back has avoided serious injury through six weeks in 2022, but the Panthers' organizational challenges have reduced his chances of propelling the team to victory. McCaffrey has averaged 4.6 yards per carry and has caught 33 passes for 277 yards and one touchdown, but because the Panthers are mired in mediocrity offensively, it hasn't made much of a difference.
With Rhule and those close to him on his staff now gone, other NFL teams have understandably picked up the phone to see if McCaffrey is available. Unlike his now-former teammate, Robbie Anderson, Carolina isn't actively shopping McCaffrey, but they will listen to any offer presented, as general manager Scott Fitterer has said he will for any potential deal.
It would take an overwhelming offer to pry McCaffrey from Carolina's control, per Rapoport. At the very least, though, discussions will be had.
As long as those discussions take place, McCaffrey will continue to be asked about it. He isn't concerned whether the team keeps him informed on such talks, though.
"If they keep me in the loop -- great. If not, it doesn't matter," McCaffrey said. "Like I said, I'm focused on playing against the Bucs this week right now, and doing everything I can to prepare for that game."
A full-blown fire sale isn't expected in Carolina, per Rapoport, where Fitterer remains as GM. That doesn't mean the Panthers won't consider moves. As such, McCaffrey's name will remain a hot topic until the Nov. 1 trade deadline.
The Panthers host the Buccaneers on Sunday.