What Christian McCaffrey trade means for Buccaneers

Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Carolina Panthers have traded star running back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers. Here is how the move affects the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The news broke late into the night on Thursday that the Carolina Panthers, division rivals of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have traded their best player (of an admittedly weak roster) Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers for a boatload of draft picks, none of which is a first-rounder. Even though the Buccaneers weren’t involved in this trade, it still affects them.

For starters, the Panthers are division rivals of the Bucs as we mentioned, so there’s that. They also happen to be the team that the Buccaneers are playing this Sunday, in what has turned into a must-win game despite the (perceived) mismatch. With this bombshell news, the game has all of a sudden getting a lot easier for the Bucs, on paper at the very least.

light. Related Story. More on why it's a must-win on Sunday

With the Panthers also appearing to be selling the farm, the New Orleans Saints being on an absolute nose-dive this season (and the Philadelphia Eagles owning their first-round pick), and the Atlanta Falcons also in a rebuilding mode, despite overachieving a bit, the NFC South is, even more, the Buccaneers’ to lose than it already was. Their path to the playoffs is suddenly easier.

Once they get into the playoffs though, that’s another story. Suddenly, the Niners look to be even bigger contenders than they already were, especially if they get healthy. They, along with the aforementioned undefeated Eagles, are the Buccaneers’ biggest threats to get to Super Bowl LVII.

Of course, the Bucs have to right their own ship before any Super Bowl talk can really happen obviously. Fortunately, Tom Brady is their quarterback. Then again, there is the dark cloud looming overhead of his impending unrestricted free agency after this season, and the fact that the team he grew up rooting for just got a lot better on offense.

One thing at a time though. Short-term, the news of the Christian McCaffrey trade is great for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Looking outward to the longer term, that’s where things are going to get a little juicier.