DeAngelo Williams: What's Next for Untraded Panthers RB?

Allan BrulettCorrespondent IINovember 2, 2012

Oct 28, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) rushes the ball against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. The Chicago Bears defeat the Carolina Panthers 23-22. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE
Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

 

"Well I guess this answers the trade rumors! See you on Sunday Washington redskins fb.me/1HeaWKnPP"

DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) November 1, 2012

 

Right, DeAngelo. But will you see them from the sideline, or from the backfield? And where will you be in 2013?

The NFL trade deadline has come and gone, and DeAngelo Williams, to the surprise of many, is still a Carolina Panther.   

Williams, who after several years of a fantasy-frustrating timeshare was demoted to a backup role behind Jonathan Stewart a couple of weeks ago, is in the second year of a five-year, $43 million contract. That contract gets trade-friendlier (and Panther-friendlier) after this year, because all the guaranteed money was in the first two years of the deal.  

So what now?

First of all, he's going to finish the season with the Panthers.

The demotion actually benefits Williams, in an odd way, because for an RB his age (29) he is fairly low mileage, thanks to his years in the aforementioned timeshare (since 2008, neither Stewart nor Williams has carried a full load). The last thing a 29-year-old RB needs when he hits the open market is an injury, and staying off the field will help him argue that he is fresher than his age would suggest.

Williams was the subject of heavy trade rumors prior to this week's deadline, as the Charlotte Observer reported that a contender was interested, but no deal occurred. Williams could end up being released after the season. This will give him his choice of teams in the offseason.

So where will he go then?

Green Bay remains the obvious choice. The Packers are desperate for a running back, and Williams' style is a good fit for the Pack's offense. He is a capable receiver out of the backfield, and fast enough to keep up with Green Bay's timing-dependent attack (the Packers also have a power/short-yardage back already in John Kuhn, which negates one of Williams' weaknesses).  

Denver is another good candidate. As well as he is playing this year, Peyton Manning has very few years left, and his current top RB, Willis McGahee, is several years older than Williams. Furthermore, Denver head coach John Fox was the Panthers head coach during Williams' peak. Seeing Williams in a Denver uni in 2013 would surprise no one.  

There are other possibilities; talking oneself into trying to squeeze one more year out of an aging running back is an honored tradition around the NFL. 

In fact, just about the only place you can be sure Williams won't play next year is Charlotte.