The off season story that’s not being looked at by the fans is the impending free agency of DeAngelo Williams. What if the Panthers don’t re-sign him? How will it effect our offense? How could it help us?
If we don’t re-sign DeAngelo Williams, then I personally think the power we have with Jonathan Stewart, and the on-the-rise abilities of Mike Goodson, are substantial enough to run the team. In addition to that, Stewart has stayed healthy. He has played all sixteen games in two of his three seasons. I haven’t seen enough from Mike Goodson to say he is a good replacement, but he certainly shows potential. However, I think all Panthers fans will miss the tackle-breaking, exciting runs from Williams. Ever since Stewart was drafted, the Panthers have relied heavily on their dual-threat run game.
While we had Fox we were a run heavy offense. I think with Rivera coming from a great run game, our offense will still rely heavily on the actions of our current running back corps. If we don’t sign DeAngelo, we can draft a solid running back in the 5th or 6th round. Running backs expected to go around this point include Darren Evans, Delone Carter, and Kendall Hunter. All three of the aforementioned players have a lot of talent and have the potential to go higher or lower than expected. The draft will be very interesting. Here is what I think of the bottom tier running backs available in the draft:
Darren Evans- If Virginia Tech’s roster didn’t include two other stellar running backs, Evans could have received enough carries to be considered for the first round. I think he would be a good fit in Carolina because he can make big plays like DeAngelo. He is a bruising running back with a brilliant upside. In 2010, Evans had 854 yards on 151 carries. Helping the Panthers own the time of possession would be in his job description.
Delone Carter- Delone has speed and power. These are exceptional qualities for a running back to possess. During Carter’s 2010 season he had 1233 yards on 231 carries. He would be very important to the Panthers because he has the ability to put the team on his back.
Kendall Hunter-He has quick feet and would be a great speed running back in the NFL. People who watch the NCAA know Nebraska has a good run defense. They must not have shown up when Kendall Hunter came to play. He ran for 201 yards against them and 1548 yards on the season.
I’m not saying they will all fall to the 5th or 6th round, but I think all three are good picks.
If we don’t draft a running back or resign DeAngelo, we will have to take a look at the free agency.
The free agency includes:
Mike Tolbert- The former San Diego back should be in the free agency this year after the Chargers decided to draft Ryan Matthews. With Ron Rivera’s experience on the Chargers, the Panthers might like Mike Tolbert. Mike Tolbert is 25 and may soon prove to be an excellent player. But if he goes to the Panthers, we could see his true potential really explode. He wouldn’t always start, but he has ability to take the ball and get good positive gains.
Darren Sproles- The Chargers also have the expiring contract of Darren Sproles within their system. Sproles is very small and has the ability to run with speed. The North Country Times says Sproles has likely played his last game as a San Diego Charger.
Tim Hightower- This Arizona running back has helped the Cardinals when they need him. He is used as a 3rd down back as well as a regular back. I am still wondering whether he will return to the Cardinals because they were a Super Bowl caliber team. Now, however, the Cardinals need rebuilding so he might pack his bags.
I’m not saying you will see any of these guys in a Panther’s uniform next year. They all seem to be good fits in our system though.
What if we don’t sign or draft back? What if we don’t resign DeAngelo Williams? We would have to look into the 2012 free agency and t draft. In the draft, if we have a high pick again, LaMicheal James, should be available as the highest quality rusher. There is also Montel Harris, the Boston College back, and Dan Herron, the Ohio State runner. In the Free Agency of 2012, there are a few good running backs, however, most will stay with their team. Players like Maurice Morris, Travis Henry and Moran Norris could be available.
The last option would be to franchise tag DeAngelo. With all the free agents the Panthers have to deal with, there are certainly upsides and downsides to doing this.
It seems as if the Panthers could find a quality running back, if for some reason, they can’t resign D-Will.
What do you think we should do?