The Carolina Panthers have agreed to a four-year, $64m contract extension with All-Pro Christian McCaffrey running back, making McCaffrey the highest-paid running back in the NFL.

“I’m so excited to continue my career in Carolina,” McCaffrey told ESPN on Monday. “I want to thank Mr Tepper, Marty Hurney, and Coach Rhule for the opportunity to help lead this great franchise, and to all my teammates for their help along the way.”

McCaffrey ran for 1,387 yards and hauled in 1,005 yards receiving last season for the Panthers, joining Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig as the only running backs in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards in both categories in the same season. McCaffrey, 23, had one year left on his current contract. The new deal puts McCaffrey ahead of Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott as the highest-paid running back in the league. Elliott is making $15m per season.

The former first-round draft pick has been a spectacular selection for the Panthers, amassing 2,920 yards rushing and 2,523 yards receiving along with 39 touchdowns in three seasons. He is the only player in NFL history with at least 2,500 yards receiving and rushing in his first three seasons.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule said last week he viewed McCaffrey as a vital part of the franchise moving forward. “I think Christian McCaffrey is a centerpiece player that you can build around,” Rhule said. “And I think he really builds to the culture that you want to have within the building.”

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