Is it up to the Carolina Panthers whether DeAngelo Williams stays?

Thus far there has been the firm belief that if DeAngelo Williams is no longer a Carolina Panther in 2011 it will be because of the Carolina Panthers, and the Panthers alone. However, according to beat writer Darin Gantt this may not wholly be the case.

Per Gantt's twitter less than 30 minutes ago:

"DeAngelo Williams said keeping RB coach Jim Skipper would be a factor in his offseason decision-making [...] Essentially, DeAngelo was lobbying for Skipper to stay. Was sending message that keeping the veteran assitant would be an enticement for him [...] DeAngelo loves Skip, trusts him. Whether the new coach would want to keep Skipper would be up to the new coach. [...] The other thing to remember that if Skipper doesn't stay, he's likely to go wherever Fox goes.

This represents the first time we've heard from DeAngelo what he would be looking for in order to remain a Carolina Panther. There is no doubt that DeAngelo Williams has a deep relationship with Jim Skipper, his RB coach who has been with the Carolina Panthers since 2002.

A deeper look at Williams' decision after the jump.

It's been discussed at great length, but it must be reiterated; there is a greater chance a new head coach will clean house rather than retain any of the current coaches. Skipper has been a fantastic RB coach, but it's likely a new guy will like to surround himself with 'his guys'.

This is why I think Williams is at a cross roads. On the one hand he's a loyal, high character, do anything guy and on the other one must wonder if he feels that same loyalty is a two way street.  Couple this with the fact the Panthers are in a full rebuilding process and he's just on the right side of 30 as it is and one must wonder if he sees Steve Smith (as brilliant as he is) as a cautionary tale of the amazing player losing good years on a bad team.

That's not to say the Carolina Panthers are going to be a 'bad team' for a long period of time, but the window for a running back is so small and there will be some very good teams who are very close to a championship who may look for his services in 2011; immediately Green Bay and New England spring to mind.

This new twist of Jim Skipper playing a role in his decision coupled with the recent stellar play of third string Mike Goodson add layers to an already complicated situation. 

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