There’s a “monster gap” between the Panthers and Daryl Williams in contract negotiations, a source tells Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. The source added that it would be “shocking” if a deal came together between now and the start of training camp in July.
Williams, a fourth-round pick in 2015, is eligible for free agency after the season. Last year, he started in all 16 games for the Panthers and played on every offensive snap. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated right tackle in the league, good for third amongst all tackles in the NFL. Only David Bakhtiari (Packers) and Joe Staley (49ers) performed better than him, per the advanced metrics. Head coach Ron Rivera has praised Williams’ development over the years and recognizes his importance to the team.
“When he first got here, it was understanding how to practice. Then as he became a starter it was continuing to practice hard. Now it’s the consistency of how hard he practices,” Rivera said. “He’s a smart player, understands the game, has good technique. But it’s about coming to work every day and being consistent with that effort, (and) he’s done a great job with that.”
In theory, the Panthers could use 2017 second-rounder Taylor Moton at right tackle down the line, but right now the plan for him is to also see time at left guard to help replace Andrew Norwell. But, unless Moton takes a major step forward, the Panthers will want to avoid losing another key cog on the offensive line next spring.
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