MARCH 10th, 4:16pm: The Panthers officially announced that Williams has been released. The running back will be designated as a post-June 1st cut, which will save Carolina about $2MM against the cap, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (on Twitter).
FEBRUARY 23rd, 3:49pm: While Williams’ release looks inevitable, the Panthers may not make it official for a little while. As Joel Corry of CBSSports.com points out (via Twitter), Carolina would have to wait until the new league year begins on March 10 if the team wants to designate the running back as a post-June 1 cut.
2:45pm: Williams’ release isn’t official, a Panthers spokesman tells David Newton of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Of course, considering the running back himself announced it, it seems like a good bet that it will become official soon enough.
2:10pm: The Panthers have parted ways with longtime running back DeAngelo Williams, according to Molly Grantham of WBTV. Williams himself confirmed to Grantham that he was cut by the club last week during a meeting with Carolina head coach Ron Rivera and GM Dave Gettleman.
“We sat down and [they] told me ‘The fact of the matter is we’re going to have to release you,'” Williams said. “I said you know, ‘Why?’ and he said, ‘Because we don’t run the ball enough. Just like you said back before the season started, we don’t run the ball enough to keep you and both [Jonathan Stewart], so we’re going to release you.'”
Williams, a former first-round pick, is coming off the worst season of his career, one marred by injuries. The 31-year-old played only six games, and wasn’t productive when he did play, averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry on 62 total attempts. The Panthers had been prepared to head into the 2015 league year with three running backs among their top 10 cap numbers — Stewart, Williams, and Mike Tolbert counted for about $18MM combined, so the team had been expected to make some sort of move to address that situation.
With three years still left on his contract, including two void years, Williams would count for $6.6MM against Carolina’s cap in 2015 if the team doesn’t designate him as a post-June 1 cut. I’d expect Williams to be treated as a post-June 1 cut, allowing the Panthers to spread his cap hit over two seasons. If the team does that, the veteran running back will count for about $4.33MM in dead money on the ’15 cap, creating $2MM in cap savings.
For his part, Williams – who is eligible to sign with another team as soon as the move is official – recognizes that the Panthers are making a business decision, and says he’s not upset by the move.
“I don’t feel bitter at all. [Stewart] had the hot hand at the end of the season. He’s a great running back, obviously. I don’t feel bitter at all. It’s a business,” Williams said. “And that business comes back and reminds us year after year – whether it be Steve Smith, whether it be Jordan Gross, whether it be myself – it’s going to happen to every guy in that locker room, so it doesn’t bother me at all.”