According to WBTV, DeAngelo Williams found out the Carolina Panthers were going to release him last week during a meeting with GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Ron Rivera. Williams said during the interview, which will air tonight at 11 PM on WBTV:
"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, uh, 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."
The nine-year veteran has played his entire career with Carolina, after they drafted him with the 27th overall pick in 2006. He will be leaving the Panthers as the team’s all-time leading rusher with 6,846 rushing yards as well as hold the career records in rushing attempts (1,432) and rushing touchdowns (46). He also holds the single-season record in rushing yards (1,515) and rushing touchdowns (18) from his 2008 season. He had a second consecutive 1,000 rushing season in 2009 and was selected to the Pro Bowl that year.
However, Williams has struggled to put up similar numbers since that year and averaged only 599.2 rushing yards and 3.2 rushing touchdowns the past five seasons. Last year was exceptionally tough for Williams as he dealt with a number of injuries and played in only six games. He finished with career lows in rushing attempts (62), yards (219), and touchdowns (0).
Aside from the decline in production, the Carolina Panthers had to make this move to help free up some more salary cap. According to Over the Cap, if the Panthers designate Williams as a post-June 1 release they would save $2 million this offseason. This is money that they could use towards free agents they hope to sign starting next month.
These types of moves are never easy, especially when it involves the type of player and person DeAngelo Williams is. He made his presence known both on as well as off the field. He was one of the leaders in the NFL’s initiative to raise awareness for breast cancer. He started wearing pink cleats back in 2009 to honor his mother and his three aunts, who all were diagnosed with breast cancer.