February 22, 2011
According to Adam Schefter, the Carolina Panthers have decided not to use their franchise tag on stud running back DeAngelo Williams. Thus, unless they can work out a long-term deal with him, he'll be free to explore unrestricted free agency.
Maybe I'm wrong -- and there's been no indication from Williams that he does or doesn't want to stay -- but given that the Panthers just went 2-14, and Williams has always been locked in a time-split situation with Jonathan Stewart(notes), I'm guessing he's done as a Panther.
"Yes, I would love to be a Carolina Panther" is just not something you hear a ton of these days.
And truthfully, even though they're short on talent, letting Williams walk is probably the right call for Carolina. As good as he is, with two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt, he was hobbled with injuries last year, and his yards-per-carry was down significantly. In his absence, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson(notes) performed adequately.
As Schefter says, the move allows the Panthers to lock up either center Ryan Kalil(notes) or quarterback-killer Charles Johnson(notes). It's easier to replace a running back than it is to replace either of those gentlemen.
So, it's good news for DeAngelo Williams(notes), and good news for teams that need a running back. Williams should be available, and at the age of 27 (and with limited wear because of the time-sharing), he might have some prime years left.
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