Panthers RB depth chart: Will Chuba Hubbard or D'Onta Foreman start after Christian McCaffrey trade?

Panthers RB depth chart: Will Chuba Hubbard or D'Onta Foreman start after Christian McCaffrey trade?

The Panthers confirmed their status as NFL trade deadline sellers late Thursday when they announced that they had traded star running back Christian McCaffrey.

Carolina dealt McCaffrey to the 49ers in exchange for four future draft picks. The deal did not contain a first-round pick, but San Francisco is reportedly sending four mid-rounders the Panthers, three of them in the 2023 draft.

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Now, the 49ers have a true No. 1 running back for their offense. That will give Kyle Shanahan another weapon to take pressure off Jimmy Garoppolo and the passing game.

As for the Panthers, they are starting to prepare for the future. And that means evaluating their own running back situation.

With McCaffrey gone, the Panthers now have little certainty at the position. They have a six-year veteran and a few young players and will spend the rest of the season evaluating whether any belong on the roster long term.

That may not excite the average fan, but fantasy football players will certainly be wondering exactly what Carolina’s plan will be.

MORE: NFL trade deadline targets — Who else is on the block?

Who is the Panthers’ new starting RB?

The Panthers were one of the few teams in the NFL that didn’t have a clear-cut backup running back. The team’s official website listed Chuba Hubbard and D’Onta Foreman as second-string options behind McCaffrey.

It stands to reason that the Panthers will view Hubbard and Foreman as relative equals after trading McCaffrey. As such, the two will likely split the rushing workload, though one may receive more carries in the immediate aftermath of the trade.

Panthers RB depth chart

1a. D’Onta Foreman

Foreman may see a greater share of the workload. There aren’t many differences between he and Hubbard, but Foreman has gotten 12 carries to Hubbard’s six this season, so it stands to reason that offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will continue to give him carries.

Foreman, 26, is well-built at 6-1, 236 pounds. He has gained 37 yards on his 12 carries. Against the Rams in Week 6, he reached season highs with five carries and 19 yards.

1b. Chuba Hubbard

Foreman may get more of the early-down work, but Hubbard should still play a big role in the backfield. He has played just one fewer snap than Foreman this season.

Hubbard has gained 34 yards on six carries and has more catches during his two-year career (26) than Foreman has made in his six-year career.

It’s also noteworthy that Hubbard, 23, served as the primary backup to McCaffrey last season. He totaled 612 yards and five touchdowns on 172 carries — a paltry 3.6-yard average — but he showed he could handle a lead back role.

The Panthers may want to get a larger sample size with Hubbard to determine whether it’s worth keeping him in 2023. Don’t be surprised if he eventually gets more snaps than Foreman.

MORE: NFL power rankings for Week 7

3. Raheem Blackshear

Consider Blackshear a dark horse to take carries from Foreman and Hubbard. The undrafted rookie landed with the Panthers after running for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries with the Bills during the preseason.

Blackshear, 23, has served exclusively as a returner with the Panthers and is averaging a league-high 28 yards per kick return. But given his preseason promise, Carolina could look to evaluate what the 5-9, 194-pound youngster can do in the backfield.

4. Spencer Brown

Brown signed with the Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2021 and has remained with the team since. He is currently on the practice squad, so he could be called up to the active roster if the Panthers want more depth at the position.

Brown, 23, suited up for four NFL games in 2021 but played just one special teams snap.