The NFL trade deadline is literally hours away – 4pm eastern time – while Carolina Panthers’ RB DeAngelo Williams awaits his fate.
The Panthers aren’t exactly out shaking the trees to see what might fall to them as far as either holding onto him or trading him, but they are listening to offers like any 1-6 team ought to do. Several things point to the likely event that…Williams stays put.
Carolina isn’t going anywhere this offseason and player trades in the NFL are rather rare things outside of draft day or the days preceding it. Even then, usually, trades are pick-for-pick, not player or players for pick(s).
The biggest reason other teams might shy away from trading for him is his salary. I forget exactly what this year’s salary figure is exactly – but it’s around $5 million-ish and increases a million dollars per season each season through 2015, when he’ll likely be over the hill and his productive days behind him.
Factoring into this is the fact that next year’s salary cap figure league-wide may not be much higher than this year’s and teams on BOTH ends of any trade might balk. The Panthers would have to absorb the cap hit for him in 2013 if they trade or keep him…so why trade him, take the pretty substantial cap hit, and have zero production from him because he’s no longer a Panther?
Any move made by the Panthers to ship him off could be construed several ways, but the low-down is that such a move might be made with the team’s long-term future in mind…not so much 2013, but beyond. The fact that the Panthers are listening to offers suggests that if a team wants/needs him badly enough, he could be had.
Reports are that several organizations have inquired about him, including at least one playoff contender. That wouldn’t rule out many teams even now – especially in the AFC with SO many squads hovering near .500, so the “pool” of organizations thinking about him is probably rather large.
The real stumbling block is his compensation in two ways. First is his salary as mentioned, but secondly is what would Carolina want in return for him? How high a draft pick would make Carolina actually pull the string?
I’m not sure on that second point, but I’d think a third-rounder would be the highest they could reasonably expect, and possibly a 4th. Williams is 29 years old now and 30 is “the magic number” where running backs’ skills generally begin to decline. However, with less “wear” on the ole tread than many his age due to splitting carries with Jonathan Stewart in recent years, the 1-2 punch and Williams’ diminished role of late could actually be a positive for any trade thoughts. Fewer carries means a healthier guy for a running back and probably even more “help” to a team fighting to make the playoffs.
Whatever the case, we’ll know of any move by dinnertime tonight. The finish line is well within sight.