Yesterday, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer posted an article reporting that sources within the organization say the team plans on keeping both Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, regardless of the amount of money and cap space the two running backs would cost the team in 2013.
For most teams, having two running backs as good as Williams and Stewart at a combined cap hit of $11.5M isn't really a bad thing. For comparison's sake, Adrian Peterson counts $13.9M against Minnesota's cap, although money really isn't an object when you get the production of Peterson in return.
However, unlike the situation with Peterson in Minnesota, the issue with retaining both backs in Carolina is the fact that the Panthers are currently around $10M over the salary cap, and they have until March 12th to shed the necessary cap space to comply with the league's demands. It is still unknown how they plan to get under the cap, and it's entirely possible that Williams will be among those who restructure his contract to remain on the roster in 2013.
Whether or not Williams and Stewart will be worth the money and cap space it takes to retain them isn't entirely up to them. As we witnessed over the last two seasons under the Rule of Chud, the tandem rushers can't prove their worth if they don't get the necessary opportunities to do so. Hopefully the running game will be approached differently under new Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula, but given the fact that Shula was promoted to maintain continuity in the offense, we can't assume that Double Trouble will get more action than they have over the past two years.
When asked by the media if both backs were going to be on the roster in 2013, new General Manager Dave Gettleman had this to say:
"Can we keep both of them? Again, decisions have to be made. I don’t see why not."
Well Dave, you're certainly not going to get any argument out of most Panthers fans. As to you not being able to see why the team can't keep both Williams and Stewart, I truly hope you know what you're talking about, because it's going to take a lot of creative accounting and convincing players to take pay cuts to keep both running backs on the roster going forward. If you're able to do that, then you may not only have taken Marty Hurney's job, but you may also take his "Cap Wizard" nickname as well.
Or perhaps a better moniker for you would be "The Cleaner", since you will have done a lot of work to clean up the team's awful salary cap mess from the previous regime, and if you're able to do that while still maintaining the team's core group of players then you will have done an outstanding job in your first offseason as General Manager.
As always, stay tuned to CSR for any breaking updates to this story and on any other player restructures, cuts, and signings as they happen.
Hat tips to Panther Fan in GA and patosan for posting fanshots that linked the article referenced in this story.