|RB DeAngelo Williams unsure if he'll be back with Panthers next season or not|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Monday, 29 November 2010 20:30|
CHARLOTTE -- DeAngelo Williams would love to be a Carolina Panther next season.|
He just doesn’t know whether or not it’s going to happen.
Like so many things in the NFL these days, Williams’ future remains up in the air. His contract is up after this season, but with no collective bargaining agreement in place, it’s still a little unclear exactly what that means.
Will he be an unrestricted free agent? Can the Panthers use the franchise tag to keep him? And, most importantly, will there even be football?
All of these things will be determined if and when the owners and players come to an agreement.
“I’m the first one to admit I have no idea what’s going to happen,” Williams said Monday in his first interview since going on injured reserve with a sprained arch. “I don’t even know if there will be football next year. I am just preparing myself to play football if it is possible for us to play. I’m trying to put myself in the best situation to get my foot right.”
At the time Williams went on IR, coach John Fox said it would take about “two to three weeks” before Williams would be ready to get back on the practice field but made the move because the Panthers needed the roster spot because they had so many injuries.
Williams said he lobbied against the move, but ultimately accepted the team’s decision.
Since then he’s been working on rehabbing the foot.
He said he’s been running and lifting weights and the foot is coming along just fine and that doctors tell him he won’t need surgery.
In the meantime, Williams is cheering on his teammates and waiting to hear from the Panthers organization about a possible new contract.
He said there’s been some talk between the Panthers and his agent, but no offers have been exchanged.
“I would love to be a Carolina Panther, but if they have other things they want to do — because there is a lot of stuff that has to be done here — they have to address those issues,” Williams said.
Williams is referring to Carolina’s other free agents that include center Ryan Kalil, defensive end Charles Johnson, quarterback Matt Moore and line-backers James Anderson and Thomas Davis.
When Davis went on injured reserve, he said he felt pretty certain he’d be back with the Panthers next season.
Williams has not been given similar reassurances.
“There’s a lot of talking,” Williams said. “Do you consider that reassurance?”
He said he’s not worried if the Panthers put the franchise tag on him — if there even is one next year — since that’s out of his control.
Williams said one thing that might influence his decision to stay is if the Panthers re-sign well-respected running backs coach Jim Skipper, the only position coach he’s known since coming into the NFL.
But given Fox’s impending departure after the season, there’s a good chance Skipper goes with him if Fox gets a head coaching gig. And, even if he doesn’t, there’s no guarantee the Panthers’ new head coach will keep Skipper on his staff.
Williams said that isn’t a deal-breaker, but it would certainly be his preference.
“Yeah, I would like to see that,” Williams said. “I think it would be the ultimate piece. I’d like to see him back. That’s basically what I’m saying.”
Williams also said it doesn’t matter to him who’s coaching next year and that won’t affect his decision either.
“It’s the organization,” he said. “Mister Richardson isn’t going anywhere, right?”
At least for now, the ball is in the team’s court.
They have the option to approach him about a contract extension, although they’ve not done that with any of their potential free agents at this point.
That’s largely because they’d like to know the NFL landscape first.
The big question might come down to whether the Panthers want to spend a lot of money at running back or feel they can live with what they have and spend their money to become stronger at other positions.
Running back remains the team’s deepest position.
Mike Goodson has shown in the last three weeks that he can play, and Jonathan Stewart and Tyrell Sutton are also under contract.
Would re-signing Williams mean a crowded backfield?
“There was this year, and there was last year,” Williams said of the team keeping four backs. “I think it’s a proven fact that it takes more than a couple of tailbacks to get through the season sometimes, so why not?”