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NFL trade deadline: Christian McCaffrey heads to San Francisco 49ers

The Bills had been rumored to be interested in McCaffrey

San Francisco 49ers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

Late on Thursday evening, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had been traded to the San Francisco 49ers.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network followed up with the final trade terms, revealing that the Panthers had traded McCaffrey to the 49ers in exchange for second, third, and fourth-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, plus a fifth-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Buffalo Bills had been rumored to be interested in McCaffrey on the trade market, news that reached its peak soon after the Panthers fired head coach Matt Rhule on October 10. There were some early reports that the Bills—who have deep and well-covered ties to the Panthers organization within their own front office—had made calls on McCaffrey, but the Bills denied those reports, and not much had been said about it since.

It’s also highly unlikely that Bills general manager Brandon Beane, who has repeatedly emphasized the team’s salary cap situation and value for draft picks in discussing his team-building philosophies, would have been involved for long in McCaffrey trade discussions given the final asking price. The Bills have made such trades before—see Stefon Diggs—but they have a much different cap situation now. They’re also in a much different stage of their development arc as a franchise.

Indeed, Rapoport reports that the Bills were not among the final teams vying for McCaffrey; instead, the trade came down to the 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams.

The NFL’s trade deadline for the 2022 regular season is on Tuesday, November 1, so if the Bills are indeed seeking reinforcements, they still have well over a week to try and swing a deal.