Carolina Panthers' general manager Dave Gettleman didn't rule out the idea of having two running backs on the roster, but today Ron Rivera said the team is open to trading DeAngelo Williams. This marks the first occasion we've seen the organization say Williams is available, and saddle themselves to Jonathan Stewart.
Parting ways with Williams is inevitable -- either this season, or next. There isn't the cap space to justify having both on the roster, and it's an easy way for Gettleman to free up money in 2014. However, it's also a situation that needs to be handled very carefully.
The problem with player trades in the NFL is the signing bonus. Unless Williams restructured his deal to convert bonus into salary, he'd be a large cap hit if traded. Still owed $9.6 million against the cap, this would accelerate immediately -- something the team can't afford.
Plenty of teams are still in need of a running back. The Green Bay Packers missed out on Steven Jackson this off-season, and have often been linked to Williams in past potential trades. For a team like the Packers, Williams would be a 2-3 year option, and with only his salary remaining to be paid he'd be worth the (roughly) $5.0 million per year.
At this point it's important to have a clear understanding of what DeAngelo is worth on the open market. Carolina would be lucky to get a 5th round pick for their second running back. This isn't an indictment of his ability, but rather an understanding that veterans don't command much in trades -- that's just how the league works. This is a buyer's market for helping cash-strapped teams.
If Dave Gettleman can trade Williams near the deadline it would kiss the Panthers' remaining cap space goodbye. No more moves, not even mid-level free agents. However, in eating the cost in 2013 it would free up $9.2 million against the cap in 2014 -- which may be worth it.