If C.J. Anderson can duplicate his statistics from 2017 then the Carolina Panthers have made the most efficient signing of the offseason.
When the Carolina Panthers made the decision to part company with Jonathan Stewart this summer it was incumbent upon the team to find a new running back. Marty Hurney and company could have gone for a high-priced option, but instead they settled on C.J. Anderson. If he produces anything similar to what he gave the Broncos last year, he’ll be one of the biggest bargains of the offseason.
The Panthers reeled Anderson in for a base salary of just $800,000. He could double his compensation by achieving certain incentives but that would still cost the Panthers well under $2 million in total. That’s a bargain for a running back coming off a 1,000 yard season.
Of course, Anderson won’t be the number one running back in Carolina. That honor will go to former Stanford Cardinal Christian McCaffrey. He isn’t the most physical running in the NFL, but his versatility is a huge asset for Cam Newton’s offense. Despite his obvious talent, the Panthers still need a back who can hammer the defense on occasion.
Anderson and Cameron Artis-Payne will battle all throughout the preseason for that spot. Artis-Payne has experience with the franchise, but he doesn’t have Anderson’s talent or experience. He’s struggled to earn a place with the Panthers while Anderson has been a number one running back in the NFL.
The physical back also has self-confidence on his side. Anderson still believes that he should be in his “prime.” That might be a little optimistic on behalf of the 27-year-old running back, but it’s not impossible. He’s certainly very motivated to have a big season. A big season in Carolina could allow him to earn one more big contract before he gets on the wrong side of 30.
All of the talk about Carolina’s offense this preseason will continue to focus on Cam Newton and the passing game. Fans shouldn’t forget that the Panthers offense has always started with the run. C.J. Anderson’s ability to improve upon Jonathan Stewart’s totals from last season could be the key to Carolina’s Super Bowl dreams.