Williams was no longer an effective NFL running back. He was one for a long time, but by the end of 2014 I thought he was the fourth-best running back on the roster.
As I wrote back in January, this should be one of the easiest decisions the Panthers make the entire offseason. While I thought the Panthers should have kept Steve Smith around one more year instead of release him before the 2014 season, if anything I think they kept Williams around one year too long. Certainly, he needed to be released by now. I am sorry he doesn't feel like the Panthers supported him when his mother died, but let's not let that cloud the on-field issues.
This column I wrote back in January listed seven things I thought the Panthers ought to do in the offseason. They have now accomplished the first two on my list -- release Williams and don't bring back left tackle Byron Bell, who was simply not good enough last year.
Here are the other five in the list and an update as to where the Panthers stand with each:
1. Sign a tackle – and then draft another. I think the Panthers will do both of these things. My biggest problem with what Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman didn’t do in the 2014 offseason had to do with him trying to get by cheaply at both tackle spots. That was a mistake.
2. Don't completely ignore the dollar store. Gettleman said in January: “Last year we were shopping in the dollar store. This year we’ll be able to move up in class a little bit.”
That’s fine, but the dollar store is a great place to upgrade the mostly awful special-teams coverage and return units. Hello Ted Ginn Jr.?If he comes at a reasonable price, I would like to see it -- as would Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert.
All I'm saying is @TedGinnJr_19 back in carolina wld be awesome!!!— Mike Tolbert (@miketolbert35) February 24, 2015
3. Stay far away from Greg Hardy. I think the Panthers will ultimately do this even though the charges against Hardy were dismissed. To me, the risk doesn't line up with the reward.
4. Make inroads with Cam. The Panthers are doing this, having reopened negotiations on a contract extension with Cam Newton.
5. Keep more continuity. Late in 2014, the Panthers had 16 new players among the 24 key positions on offense and defense (I am counting the third receiver and the nickel cornerback as starters, too). Only eight players were the same from 2013.
That's too much turnover -- way too much -- for a team that won 12 games in 2013.
Williams and Bell? They were properly jettisoned. But this team does not need a major overhaul. Last year's overhaul backfired to some extent, and I think Gettleman knows that. This team needs to have far more continuity. As for DeAngelo, he will leave as the team's leading rusher, and he will be missed.
“@DeAngeloRB: 9 years is a long time. it's been a great run..It's been a pleasure my brother! You will be missed! Wait we're neighbors. Lol— Thomas Davis (@TD58SDTM) February 24, 2015