One of the hot topics lately (and most all season) has been about the Panthers re-signing DeAngelo Williams. James has already posted an article based off a tweet from Darin Gantt that reads as follows:
"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."
Some new information has been posted via the Asheboro Courier-Tribune which in ways affirms what Gantt has tweeted, but also sheds some new light on exactly where D-Lo's loyalties lie... more details, including the first time I will ever express my opinion on this matter, after the jump...
The article from the Asheboro paper has some interesting quotes from DeAngelo himself. Some of the most important tid-bits are quoted:
Speaking to reporters Monday for the first time since being placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier this month, the impending free-agent indicated he’d like to re-sign with the Panthers regardless of who coaches the team in 2011.
John Fox, in the last year of his contract, is not expected to return.
"I can tell you this, I love being a Carolina Panther," Williams said. "I don’t want to go anywhere. It’s not my decision, though."
It seems DeAngelo would like to be back as long as the organization will have him. This is fairly in-line with the earlier tweets from Gantt. However, later in the article he elaborates further:
The 2006 first-round pick hopes he’ll get to continue to play for running backs coach Jim Skipper, although it’s possible no coaches on Fox’s staff will return.
"That’s the only running backs coach I’ve ever played for. He understands me and I understand him," Williams said. "They got all the pieces there. It’s whether or not they want to bring me back."
Williams insists that’s his first option, saying his affinity with owner Jerry Richardson outweighs uncertainty over the next coaching staff.
"It’s the organization that ultimately makes the team," Williams said. "Mr. Richardson will be back, right?"
This deviates from the statements presented to us by Gantt, who made it appear that if Skipper leaves, so does D-Lo. Here you can see that Williams has firmly stated his loyalty to the organization that drafted him and to the team owner, saying it takes precedence over the rehiring of RB coach Skipper.
It is clear however that he would like to have both, and it may be in the best interests of the front office to convince whatever new coach they bring in to retain the RB coach in charge of making Double Trouble into what they are today, and for developing young players like Mike Goodson, Tyrell Sutton, and Josh Vaughan into promising young backs. There may be a hometown discount involved if D-Lo is happy and gets to keep his coach and mentor.
My thoughts on the matter...
... are very simple, and I will pull from some of the additional wisdom that DeAngelo gives us in the article.
Is there room for everybody?
"It was this year. It was last year," Williams said. "I think it’s a proven fact that you need more than a couple tailbacks to get through seasons sometimes."
No understatement there. This year we have seen injuries to both halves of Double Trouble as well as to Sutton. That turned us to rely on Mike Goodson, as well as newly acquired Andre Brown and Josh Vaughan to carry the load in their absence. Luckily for us, Goodson has learned a lot in his second year in the league, and Vaughan was an under-rated UDFA coming from a I-AA school that didn't get much of a chance in the preseason. But we are not the most extreme case. Look at the situation in Washington, where Shanahan is essentially pulling guys off the street to start.
Double Trouble has proven effective in the past, and will again with a healthy offensive line and investment in youth at that position in this years draft. Since it appears we will be looking young for our next head coach, we may be able to get him to accept a deal that requires him to keep coach Skipper on staff as RB coach. I think this would be likely to get DeAngelo to give us somewhat of a hometown discount, and give us money in other areas that we will need to sign other players that are key to our success.
What we cannot afford to do is let our prized first round pick walk away and only be compensated a 3rd rounder in return. We can afford to look to the future with both Stewart and Goodson on the roster. We can re-evaluate a trade for any of those players over the next 2 years before their rookie contracts run out and while we still have D-Lo under his new contract.
The question of DeAngelo Williams staying or going has been polled to death. Instead... I will go in a different direction with this one.