Christian McCaffrey signs record contract to become highest paid running back in the NFL, reports say

(CNN) — Christian McCaffrey reportedly is set to become the highest paid running back in NFL history after signing a four-year, $64 million extension with the Carolina Panthers.

The new deal means McCaffrey would average $16 million per year. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and ESPN, separately citing unnamed sources, reported the contract agreement. McCaffrey retweeted the news as posted by ESPN reporter Adam Schefter.

On average, McCaffrey’s earnings would surpass the annual pay of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, previously the highest paid running-back, the sources reported. Elliott earns $15 million per season.

“I’m so excited to continue my career in Carolina,” McCaffrey told ESPN. “I want to thank Mr. (David) Tepper, Marty Hurney, and Coach (Matt) Rhule for the opportunity to help lead this great franchise, and to all my teammates for their help along the way. And to Panthers fans, KEEP POUNDING!”

CNN has reached out to the Carolina Panthers.

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McCaffrey was picked with the eighth overall selection of the 2017 draft by the Panthers from Stanford University.

The 23-year-old, who was entering the fourth year of his rookie contract with two years remaining, is now signed on to play in Carolina until the conclusion of the 2025 season.

Joining the ranks of legends

Being the highest paid running back in NFL history is McCaffrey’s reward for becoming just the third running back in league history to both run for at least 1,000 yards and gain 1,000 yards receiving in the same season.

He joined Roger Craig (1985) and Marshall Faulk (1999) after finishing with 1,387 rushing yards and 1,005 receiving yards last season, as well as 19 total touchdowns.

McCaffrey, who is the son of three-time Super Bowl winner Ed McCaffrey, recorded 116 catches in 2019, the most ever by a running back and breaking his own record of 107 set in 2018.

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He has earned two All-Pro selections in his three seasons in the NFL, including a first-team honor in 2019.

During his time with the Panthers, the team had an overall record of 23-25.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, who broke the single-season receptions record last year (149), called McCaffrey’s reported contract “smart money,” while McCaffrey’s former teammate Greg Olsen said he was “beyond deserving.”

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