One player left out from my article yesterday about potential cap casualties was running back DeAngelo Williams. The franchise's all-time leading rusher is in a different situation than the other players.
The biggest reason is because of how much he has meant to the Panthers organization. He was drafted by the team in 2006 and has been a fixture in this offense for almost a decade. He currently holds every franchise record in any meaningful rushing category (attempts, yards, touchdowns). Off the field, Williams has done plenty of charity work in the community and was a major driving force behind the NFL Breast Cancer initiative.
Unfortunately in the NFL it isn't necessarily about what you have done but rather what you can do going forward. In the case of Deangelo Williams, after his performance last year, the answer may not be much.
Due in part to injury and ineffectiveness, Williams saw his featured back role go to Jonathan Stewart. He finished the year with career lows in rushing yards (219), rushing yards per attempt (3.5) and touchdowns (0). Meanwhile, Stewart ran very well and was one of the best running backs over the final quarter of the season.
These types of moves are never easy when it comes to franchise greats. The front office and GM Dave Gettleman unfortunately have some experience with this. Last offseason, the Panthers had to release the franchise’s leading receiver Steve Smith. The deciding factor for Smith, and probably Williams, aside from performance will be money.
If Williams is designated as a post-June 1 cut, the Panthers would be able to free up $2 million in cap space, according to OvertheCap.com.
It is never easy to cut a player in the NFL, and that decision is made even tougher when it is a player like Deangelo Williams. However, at this point in his career it would be best for the Panthers to release Williams and bring in some younger players to backup Stewart next season.