© USA TODAY Sports

The running back market as a whole may be continuing to slide backwards, but Christian McCaffrey has proved once again that he sits outside of this grouping. The 49ers locked in their versatile offensive weapon to a 2 year, $38M new money extension today that keeps the nearly 28-year-old under contract through 2027.

Total Value Terms

McCaffrey’s 2 year, $38M combines with 2 years, $24.2M remaining on his previous contract to account for a 4 year, $62.2M total value deal. It’s a massive win for a running back of his age, who also carried multiple years of term remaining on his previous deal, and speaks to the unicorn status that CMC has garnered in 7 NFL seasons.

Average Annual Salary

McCaffrey was already the highest average paid running back in football at just north of $16M per year. This new extension places him at $19M, now a crisp $4M more than any other back in the game.

1. Christian McCaffrey, $19M
2. Alvin Kamara, $15M
3. Jonathan Taylor, $14M

At $62.2M total over the next 4 years, CMC’s $15.55M adjusted total value AAV still keeps him atop this list, as does the 2 year, $32.2M practical guarantee on this deal.

Practical Guarantee Structure

The new contract comes with $24M fully guaranteed at signing, including a $14.29M signing bonus, his minimum $1.21M base salary for 2024, and $8.5M of his 2025 compensation.

However, a triple bonus structure (signing bonus, 2025 option bonus, 2026 option bonus) make this a very likely 2 year, $32.2M contract on its face, with 3 years, $44.7M not out of the question.

Cap Hit Flow

Previously scheduled to account for $14.1M against the 49ers books this year, McCaffrey’s extension now frees up $7.46M of space fo the upcoming season.

McCaffrey’s New Cap Hits
2024: $6.6M
2025: $9.8M
2026: $9.7M
2027: $25.3M
2028: $14.8M (voidable dead cap)

Obviously the next three years at sub-$10M cap hits benefit the organization a great deal. It should be noted that the 2025 & 2026 figures assume that option bonuses have been exercised. There’s a world where San Francisco decides to front load their cap with this contract, and decline one of the bonuses, turning that respective payment into base salary for a single season.

Additionally, the contract contains 3 void years to allow for the 3 bonuses to fully prorate 5 years. If McCaffrey remains on this contract through 2026 and is released thereafter, the 49ers will have $22.7M of dead cap to deal with - but this is very much only one scenario.

Cash Flow

Previously scheduled to earn $12M in 2024, McCaffrey will now see $16M (assuming he’s active for 17 weeks), with another $16.2M on the books for 2025.

McCaffrey's New Cash Payouts
2024: $16M
2025: $16.2M
2026: $12.5M
2027: $17.5M

While this appears to be backloaded, it’s important to remember that McCaffrey was previously set to earn $12M, & $12.2M in 2024 & 2025 respectively as of yesterday. This extension was as much about bringing more money into his next two seasons as it was anything.

Future Thoughts

There’s not much to say in terms of how this may impact the running back market going forward, because it won’t. If anything, this maneuver resembles the cash-front renegotiation that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs agreed to last season, meant to reward a superstar player who was being paid well, but was playing at a level that simply deserved more money.

The triple-bonus structure keeps CMC’s cap hits outrageously tenable, doing little to stand in the way of potential extensions for Brandon Aiyuk or Brock Purdy in the coming weeks and months. But the single most important takeaway from this contract extension is that it keeps one of the most dynamic weapons in NFL history happy and locked in for two more seasons.

Every team in the league would have signed up for this.