DeAngelo Williams: Each Team's Chances of Stealing Carolina's Rushing Leader
The Carolina Panthers have declared that it isn't their main concern whether or not their superior backfield tandem remains intact and their all-time leading rusher signs with another team.
Instead of placing the franchise tag on their former Pro Bowler back, DeAngelo Williams, which would allow them to give him a top contract and disallow negotiations with other teams, they've decided to let him test the free agent market.
There are many teams desperate for a running game, and Williams will be the best back available. He was injured for most of the 2010 season, but in 2008 and 2009 he combined for nearly 2,600 yards and 25 TDs on the ground.
If he stays healthy, DeAngelo Williams speed and agility will provide an instant spark for whichever team decides to add him to their offense.
In 2010, the Ravens made it into the NFL Playoffs as a wild card, and lost in the Divisional Round. However, their problems weren't in the backfield.
After three seasons in league, Ray Rice has proven he is a dangerous threat when he his handed the ball or when he catches it out of the backfield. He's had close to or over 2,000 all-purpose yards in his last two seasons as the Ravens' starter.
Sources say Baltimore is likely to cut solid veteran backup Willis McGahee this offseason, but they aren't likely to sign another high-profile back like DeAngelo Williams to share carries with Rice.
It is highly doubtful Williams would be willing to be a backup anywhere except Carolina.
Although Cedric Benson is a free agent this season, he expects to be back with the team after rushing for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons with the Bengals.
Cincinnati will be too focused on their passing game, with Carson Palmer demanding a trade and T.O. and Chad Johnson looking to hit the road, to even think about going after Williams.
Benson will be the guy at running back in the near future for Cincy, for better or for worse.
Trading away Brady Quinn to the Broncos for Peyton Hillis sure worked out well for Cleveland. Hillis had a breakout season in his first in Browns Town, rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 TDs.
He was a bright spot in another poor season for the Browns, in which they went 5-11. This team has so many needs to satisfy before they can compete in the AFC North, but Hillis has created life in the backfield.
Although there isn't much depth behind the rising power back, don't expect Cleveland to spend any money on DeAngelo Williams.
The Steelers have one of the best young running backs in the league in Rashard Mendenhall. He can plow through defenders and use his speed to blow past potential tacklers.
His older backup, Mewelde Moore, is decent, but if Pittsburgh is going to do anything to improve their running game, it will be solidifying a shaky offensive line.
The Steelers nearly won the Super Bowl with their running attack as their main offensive strength, so there is no need for DeAngelo Williams in the Steel City.
Last offseason, the Bears picked up Chester Taylor from the division rival Minnesota Vikings after he hit free agency.
Chicago is still trying to get the most out of Matt Forte after three decent but average seasons.
Lately, it seems he is more of a threat catching passes from Jay Cutler than running the ball, but they won't be looking for another back in free agency this year.
What the Bears will be searching for is a top wideout at an affordable price, not a star running back looking for a hefty paycheck.
In 2010, Detroit split rushing opportunities between rookie Jahvid Best and veteran Maurice Morris.
Best showed potential at times during the season, as he recorded nearly as many receiving yards as he did rushing and got the ball in the end zone six total times.
Morris had five touchdowns, but only 336 yards, for an offense that struggled to run the ball effectively.
The Lions could bring in DeAngelo Williams to share carries with Best if they decide to let go of Morris, but it isn't likely.
The Vikings had an abysmal season but did manage to rank 10th in rushing yards for 2010, thanks to superstar Adrian Peterson, with a little assistance from rookie Toby Gerhart.
Peterson had another great year, rushing for nearly 1,300 yards and 12 TDs, and his heroics will keep the Vikings relevant for years to come.
There is no way DeAngelo Williams could coexist with Peterson in Minnesota's backfield, and the Vikes will be scrambling to sign a decent quarterback if Brett Favre actually remains in retirement.
Green Bay Packers
This team won a Super Bowl without having any remnant of a running game after Ryan Grant was sent to the IR in Week 1.
Rookie James Starks did the job for the Pack in the playoffs, and has Packer backers believing he might be the future at the running back position.
Ryan Grant had back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons before his injury, and will return to Green Bay's backfield in 2011. If Starks can continue to impress, he'll likely get a good amount of carries as well.
Even if the Packers are seeking another option at running back, Ted Thompson won't be looking for it in free agency.
He chose not to bring in Marshawn Lynch during the season when the running game was pitiful, so I have no reason to believe he'd sign a RB after Starks' postseason performance and Grant's return.
Don't be surprised if Brandon Jackson finds a new team before next season, but DeAngelo Williams won't be coming to Titletown.
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco signed a big-name back, Brian Westbrook, just before the start of the 2010 season. With Frank Gore returning from injury, the 49ers are probably not going to give Westbrook another contract.
The 49ers under new head coach Jim Harbaugh want to give Gore a heavy workload. In the four seasons before his injury this year, he rushed for over 1,000 in each year, and in 2011, he'll still be one of the best backs in the league.
San Francisco won't even consider signing DeAngelo Williams.
Seattle's rushing attack was 31st in the league in 2010 despite the arrival of former Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch in mid-season. Lynch's big run in the Seahawks' upset of the Saints was about the only bright spot in the ground game.
In 2011, Justin Forsett will back up Lynch, and Leon Washington will probably re-sign as the third RB on the depth chart to run back kicks.
He set a franchise record last season by returning two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game against the Chargers.
While the Seahawks desperately need more production out of their backfield, they will go ahead with the guys they have for now.
They still believe that Forsett can be a solid starter, and they hope Lynch can return to form as a 1,000-yard rusher.
There is a small chance that DeAngelo Williams could end up in Seattle, but there are many other teams that would love to make use of his talents.
The Cards were the worst rushing team in the league in 2010, averaging only 86.8 yards per game. Their leading rusher, Tim Hightower, is a free agent, and backup Beanie Wells hasn't been that impressive in his first two seasons.
DeAngelo Williams would become the starter right away in Arizona, and if they can find a quarterback, his acquisition would make the Cardinals offense relevant like it was two years ago in the Super Bowl.
Williams and Wells would fit well together and revive the team's rushing ranking significantly if a deal could be made.
St. Louis Rams
Stephen Jackson has been the silver lining on a Rams team that has struggled the past few seasons. They missed the playoffs by one game in 2010, and look to be even better next year.
They have two young backs, Kenneth Darby and Keith Toston, behind Jackson, who rushed for 1,241 yards in 6 TDs and managed to make it through a full season.
DeAngelo Williams won't be signing with St. Louis.
In his second year, Arian Foster supplanted Steve Slaton as the Texans' feature back, and led all rushers with 1,616 yards and 16 TDs.
Houston has found its depth at running back with Foster and Slaton, and rookie Ben Tate will be returning from injury in 2011. Because of that fact, the Texans will probably not re-sign Derrick Ward.
DeAngelo Williams has no chance of joining Houston's young and talented backfield.
The Jags ranked third in rushing for 2011, because of Maurice Jones-Drew and his second-year backup, Rashad Jennings.
When MJD went down with an injury, Jennings put together some good starts. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry, rushing for 459 yards and 4 TDs.
Jones-Drew rushed for 1,324 yards in only 14 games and continued to perform as one of NFL's elite backs. He has been the Jaguars only star in the darkening sky of the team's success.
DeAngelo Williams won't sign with Jacksonville, because the Jags' needs lie elsewhere.
The Colts are likely to let Joseph Addai walk after his last three shaky seasons in Indianapolis. Donald Brown was expected to take his spot as starter, but he has underperformed in his two seasons since being a first-round draft pick.
Indianapolis will be looking for a veteran presence in their backfield to join Brown, and DeAngelo Williams could be the guy.
If Peyton Manning had a decent running back behind him, his offense could be even scarier.
The Colts would be instant Super Bowl contenders in the AFC, so why wouldn't Williams want to go there?
The Titans may have been in the cellar of the AFC South, but in my opinion they have the best all-around running back in the league, Chris Johnson.
Johnson's stats declined significantly from 2009, but the speedster still gathered 1,364 yards and 11 TDs. In Johnson's shadow sits Javon Ringer, who is a worthy backup.
Tennessee won't even give a thought to pursuing DeAngelo Williams.
Michael Turner carried the ball 334 times for 1,371 yards and 12 TDs last year. In 2011, Turner will remain the Falcons' workhorse if he stays healthy, and they also have depth in the backfield with Jason Snelling.
If DeAngelo Williams stays within the NFC South, his destination won't be Atlanta.
New Orleans Saints
With both Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush going down in 2010, rookie Chris Ivory became the main ball carrier in New Orleans. He racked up 716 yards and 5 TDs in only 12 games.
Thomas will be a free agent, and Bush hasn't lived up to expectations.
The Saints may decide to stick with Ivory, but if they have any hopes of making it to the Super Bowl in 2011, a back like DeAngelo Williams, combined with Drew Brees, could take them there.
The Saints are the most likely suitor within the division to snag Williams, and they'd be wise to make a strong attempt.
The chance that DeAngelo Williams will stay in Carolina has decreased since they placed their franchise tag on center Ryan Kalil.
It goes to show that the Panthers are comfortable going ahead with Jonathan Stewart, unless they find a running back in the draft.
The Panthers were the worst team in the NFL, and because they are rebuilding, they may not want to offer Williams a large enough contract to compete with other teams.
He may say he wants to remain in Carolina, but he might jump ship if he gets some tempting offers from contenders, and the Panthers will decide to move on without him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rookie LaGarrette Blount had a surprisingly strong year for the up-and-coming Bucs, and he should only improve in his second year.
Tampa Bay wants to re-sign Cadillac Williams as a third-down back, but their hopes will depend on the market.
Blount averaged 5 yards per carry and rushed for just over 1,000 yards. The Buccaneers find themselves in a tough division, but they have a young team looking to make some noise.
Maybe if Blount hadn't cemented himself as a starter so suddenly, the Bucs might have considered bringing on Williams, but it appears he'll be headed out of the NFC South altogether.
It is uncertain whether the Cowboys will re-sign Marion Barber and Tashard Choice, but Felix Jones will be the starter in 2011, unless of course they try to sign DeAngelo Williams.
With Tony Romo and Williams leading the offense, the Cowboys might be able to get back on track next season.
It wouldn't be a complete surprise if Dallas goes after him, but Jones is set to start in 2011.
There's no doubt DeAngelo Williams would be welcome in the nation's capital.
Clinton Portis has been injury-prone the last two seasons, finding himself on the IR in 2010 after a severe concussion.
Ryan Torain emerged after Portis was out with a groin pull in Week 5, and remained the 'Skins primary back. He rushed for 742 yards, but only played in ten games because got hurt himself.
Torain will have the chance to start in 2011 with Portis' status in question, but the Redskins would rather have him play behind a star like Williams.
If Washington decides to release Portis, they'd definitely be interested in signing Carolina's all-time leading rusher.
New York Giants
New York's duo of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw made them the sixth-best rushing team in the league in 2011.
The Giants will be more likely to lose a big name back than sign one. Bradshaw is an unrestricted free agent and will have teams swarming over him after rushing for over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.
Jacobs will be the starter in the Big Apple unless Bradshaw re-signs. DeAngelo Williams won't be offered a home in NYC.
LeSean McCoy has taken over in Philly as the Eagles' threat from the backfield, with over 1,500 total yards and nine TDs in 2010.
Back up Jerome Harrison was traded in from the Browns, but the explosive McCoy is an every-down back who won't share carries with the likes of DeAngelo Williams.
New England Patriots
In his first year as starter, BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a decent season, managing just over 1,000 yards and averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
Danny Woodhead will also have opportunities in 2011, but the Pats may be interested in bringing on another option in their backfield.
New England hasn't signed a superior running back since Corey Dillon in a trade with the Bengals in 2004.
If DeAngelo Williams is focused on winning, he might take a pay cut to join a team with the opposite record of the 2-14 Panthers in 2010.
I doubt New England would go after him, but the Patriots would be heavy favorites in the AFC if they could pull off a deal.
New York Jets
While neither piece of the Jets' rushing combo traveled more than 1,000 yards in 2010, they were the fourth-best team on the ground, averaging nearly 150 yards per game.
Shonn Greene will carry most of the load in 2011, but the aging LaDainian Tomlinson will get his fair share of touches in his second year since saying goodbye to San Diego.
Rex Ryan took the Jets so close to the Super Bowl that it felt like they were two feet away, but DeAngelo Williams won't take them any further, so he'll be headed elsewhere.
Fred Jackson has the starting job in Buffalo for now, but second-year man C.J. Spiller will be competing hard for touches.
Jackson couldn't put up a 1,000-yard season, and Spiller wasn't as good as expected. The Bills still hope he can become a starter in the future.
They'd love to have DeAngelo Williams in Buffalo, but this team has too many other problems and will go forward with the backs they have.
The Dolphins may be searching for a replacement in the backfield. Both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are free agents, and Miami has little faith in their depth at the position.
There are strong odds that there will be a Williams at running back next season, but the odds are stronger that it will be DeAngelo and not Ricky. Even if Ronnie returns, he could create a new double trouble attack with DeAngelo if the Fins can reel him in.
Will DeAngelo Williams follow Lebron's lead and also take his talents to South Beach? Miami fans wouldn't be in the wrong if they prepare to welcome a new star to town.
The Broncos have a slew of running backs on their depth chart, but Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter will most likely be released.
LenDale White is coming off surgery for his Achilles' tendon, so Knowshon Moreno will be the starter, with Lance Ball as his backup.
Denver could only muster 96.5 yards per game in 2010, and unless Moreno can improve, things won't get better.
DeAngelo Williams could brighten the situation in Mile High, but the Broncos won't have enough to offer him.
San Diego Chargers
Rookie Ryan Mathews didn't have a spectacular year as a starter in San Diego, but he suffered an ankle injury and it was only his first year in the league.
He'll be the starter in 2011, but Mike Tolbert will get a fair amount of chances to run the ball as well.
DeAngelo Williams could finally get this talented team to the top, but don't get your hopes up, Chargers fans. Ryan Mathews will determine the future success of the Bolts' backfield.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs won the AFC West for the first time since 2003, largely because they led the NFL in rushing yards with 164.2 yards per game.
Kansas City is set at running back with 24-year-old Jamaal Charles continuing to improve. He had the second-most yards of any at his position in 2010, and will be drafted high in fantasy leagues when August rolls around.
If the Chiefs keep veteran Thomas Jones to complement Charles, there will certainly be no place for DeAngelo Williams in Kansas City.
The Raiders' fourth pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Darren McFadden, finally was given an opportunity to shine in 2010. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry as he recorded his first 1,000-yard season.
There is question about the return of free agent Michael Bush, but McFadden will maintain the starting job in Oakland after his breakout season.
We won't be seeing DeAngelo Williams in silver and black.