DeAngelo Williams was selected to his first Pro Bowl last season. (Photo by John Clark)
CHARLOTTE – DeAngelo Williams would love nothing more than to sign a long-term deal with the Carolina Panthers, but understands that’s not likely to happen anytime soon given the team's current spending freeze.
So Williams, who’s entering the final season of the five-year contract he signed as a rookie in 2006, doesn’t plan to waste much time worrying about something he can’t control.
"My whole thing is I signed a five-year contract here and if the owner doesn't want to re-sign me or do a new deal, that's all him," Williams said. "I'm not going to get upset or anything like that because I knew when I signed my five-year deal that I was committed here for five years, so why put up a fuss?"
Williams is set to make $2.1 million this season, which is low for a guy who has run for 2,632 yards and 25 touchdowns in his past 29 starts and earned Pro Bowl honors last year.
In the past, the Panthers have been quick to re-sign their young core players at least a year before their contracts expire and reward them for productivity. But this past year has represented a dramatic change in that philosophy as the team hasn’t attempted to re-sign players like Williams, linebacker Jon Beason and cornerback Richard Marshall.
Although there has been a lot made of the so-called “30 percent rule” – a new rule which began this year preventing teams from increasing the base salaries of players from year-to-year by more than 30 percent from the previous year -- Williams doesn’t see that as a big factor.
He thinks if the Panthers wanted to get a deal done, they could.
He points to linebacker Patrick Willis, who signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension with San Francisco this off-season, as a prime example of a team making things work.
“There are ways around it,” Williams said. “It’s not a hindrance anymore. There are a lot of young guys that are getting signed, (like) Patrick Willis that are signing big-time deals. So there are ways around the 30-precent rule. But like I said I signed a five-year commitment and I can’t be upset and I can’t be aggravated about it because I love this great game of football. The financial part and all of that stuff that has to do with this game outside of football that will take care of itself.”
Unlike Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson, Williams doesn’t plan to draw a line in the sand when it comes to deciding whether or not to holdout. Johnson hasn't been participating in Tennessee's OTAs because he wants a new deal, even though he's only two years into a five-year contract.
Williams will be at training camp whether or not he has a new contract.
“I just feel blessed to play this game,” he added.
In the meantime Williams, is focused on having another Pro Bowl season.
He missed three games last year because of a high ankle sprain, then had what he called “maintenance surgery” on his ankle, although he said it had nothing to do the injury he sustained last season. He said he's had some nagging pain in the ankle for the past two seasons, but not enough to keep him out.
“They took a couple of pictures of it and looked at it and said we might want to clean this out,” Williams said. The surgery came in February, after he participated -- and scored a touchdown -- in the Pro Bowl.
"It wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be,” Williams said of his recovery.
As for his financial future, Williams realizes that his big pay day will come after this season providing he continues to produce. That's when Williams will become an unrestricted free agent and will be allowed to sign with any of the league’s 32 teams.
“I’ll either be here or with some other team,” Williams said. “I’d love to be here, but somebody has to show me that they want me to be here. It’s not my choice unfortunately.”