I wish no harm on DeAngelo Williams. No really, I hope he has great success in his future endeavors, whatever they may be. Surely they will involve carrying a football, because that’s been the only professional pursuit he’s ever known. And for that, he deserves a slow clap.
Earlier this morning, though, we witnessed a Williams development which leads to some continued fantasy hurt. He restructured his contract, meaning he’ll continue to carry a football for the Carolina Panthers and be part of their backfield clustermess.
For Williams it was either restructure or die. Wait, that’s not correct. It was either restructure or be cut, because that’s what happens when a running back who’s woefully average during the best of times and horribly mediocre during the worst of times is getting paid far more than he’s worth.
Two years ago in a move that was stunning in its incompetence, the Panthers signed the then 29-year-old Williams to a four-year contract worth $43 million. They did this knowing that Jonathan Stewart was there and waiting for a larger role. But more importantly, they did it knowing that running backs generally decline once they reach the age of 30, and they do it swiftly. If their desire was to maintain a dual threat backfield, then fine. But that doesn’t mean overpaying drastically was a necessary step.
Brace for many digits. Here are the financial details of Williams’ new 2013 paycheck, from Shutdown Corner:
Williams was entering the third season of a five-year, $43 million contract and was scheduled to earn $5 million in cash with an $8.2 million salary cap number for 2013. Williams will still receive $5 million in cash this year, but the deal has been restructured in a way that reduces his cap number to $5 million, a cap savings of $3.2 million that leaves the team $8.46 million under their adjusted 2013 salary cap number of $126.232 million.
He was originally scheduled to earn $4.75 million. Really, what’s a million bucks or so between friends, right?
But here’s where this begins to suck a whole lot for fantasy purposes: he’s staying in Carolina. That’s abundantly obvious now a few weeks after the persistent congestion in the Panthers’ backfield may have grown just a little worse.
A year ago Mike Tolbert was signed to handle the short yardage duties, and that’s pretty much what happened when he became one of the league’s leading touchdown vultures, and therefore our enemy. He defined turning short yardage into straight money, as Tolbert recorded only 183 rushing yards on 54 carries. Yet he turned seven of those carries into touchdowns.
That’s only the start of this blessed mess. What’s interesting/confusing is that three of Tolbert’s scores came in one game (Week 17 against a horrible Saints defense), an outlier problem which also applies to Williams. Look at Williams’ 2012 stat line, and you’ll see 737 rushing yards at a pace of 4.3 yards per carry. That’s not great, but at first you’ll think it’s pretty alright considering the carries he was sharing with Tolbert and Stewart, at least when Stewart was healthy (he missed seven games).
Then upon 30 seconds of closer inspection, a number pops up. That number is 210, Williams’ total rushing yards in Week 17 against those same crappy Saints. Take that away, and he only had one other game with more than 80 yards, and his season per game rushing average drops to 35.1 per game.
Herein lies the problem with looking at Williams’ surface layer. He’s someone who will narrowly lead a backfield which just grew to possibly a four-headed monstrosity after Kenjon Barner was selected in the sixth round three weeks ago. But looking at his overall numbers is a highly deceptive exercise, as they don’t remotely represent who he is, or who he will be.
He remains a running back with burst, but the appearance of said burst is far too sporadic. And with Williams now seemingly anchored, each member of this backfield is still reduced to a flex play or more often a bye-week fill-in, and usually a reaching and depressing one.