DeAngelo Williams was carrying a high cap-figure in 2013, and it appeared the Carolina Panthers were preparing to part ways with their star running back following this season. However, an unlikely move to restructure his contract has been finalized, ensuring both the team and Williams will be together a little longer.
First reported by Brian McIntyre of Yahoo, the restructure will save the Panthers $3.2 million this season against the cap. Instead, the money has been converted into an additional $4.0 million signing bonus, which will be stretched out over the next five years. What this means in football terms is that it's highly likely DeAngelo remains through the team though the end of 2015, as opposed to leaving after this year.
Here is now the deal breaks down, old vs. new:
2013: $4.75 salary + $3.2 bonus + $250k misc bonus = $8.2 million cap hit
2014: $5.75 salary + $3.2 bonus + $250k misc bonus = $9.2 million cap hit
2015: $6.75 salary + $3.2 bonus + $250k misc bonus = $10.2 million cap hit
2013: $850k salary + $4.0 million bonus + $150k misc bonus = $5.0 million cap hit
2014: $1.85 salary + $4.0 million bonus + $150k misc bonus = $6.0 million cap hit
2015: $1.85 salary + $4.0 million bonus + $483.3k misc bonus = $6.43 million cap hit
2016: $1.0 salary + $800k bonus + $333 k misc bonus = $2.13 million cap hit
2017: $1.0 salary + $800k bonus + $333 k misc bonus = $2.13 million cap hit
What this means
Rather than being a June 1 cut designation, it allows DeAngelo to remain with the team. He is taking a true pay cut in the cash he's receiving, but overall it guarantees he'll make $17 million over the next three years, rather than likely be cut and earn $9.6 million with no guarantee another team would be interested. That's why he was willing to work with Dave Gettleman.
It's tempting to assume the move indicates a big-name signing, but most importantly it gives the the team some breathing room -- and space to have significant cap rollover into 2014. Finally, the money freed up could be used towards an extension for Greg Hardy, which would have been difficult to do while paying Williams $5.0 million in dead money each year.
Finally, and most importantly, it gives the offense another weapon. The pressure is no longer on Jonathan Stewart to be 'the guy' without a safety net, and Kenjon Barner will be eased into the offense more slowly. If you want to be glass half empty, then keeping DeAngelo longer isn't the smart move. However, the Panthers would have been taking a cap hit at least through the end of 2014 on a June 1 designation, this essentially extends that just one year -- while freeing up money now.
There are worse ideas than keeping the RB grouping together, and given the limited cost and overall gains -- this was a smart move.