Running back DeAngelo Williams has agreed to a restructured contract that ensures he’ll remain with the Carolina Panthers this season, said a person familiar with the situation.
The person spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the move has not been publically announced.
Williams, who turned 30 last month, is Carolina’s all-time leader rusher having amassed 5,784 yards and 43 touchdowns. Williams started 10 games last season and had 737 yards rushing and scored five TDs on the ground. He also caught two touchdown passes.
Yahoo.com first reported the new deal Tuesday.
By restructuring Williams’ contract, the person told the AP the Panthers will save $3.2 million under the NFL salary cap in both 2013 and 2014, and $3.87 million in 2015.
Williams started the first five games of the season before being benched for Jonathan Stewart.
However, when Stewart went down with a foot injury late in the season Williams returned to the starting lineup and helped the Panthers win four of their final five games and finish the season 7-9, helping second-year coach Ron Rivera keep his job.
Williams finished the season with a flurry, rushing for 210 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns in a victory over the New Orleans Saints in week 17.
During that five-game span Williams ran for 445 yards and caught nine passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
There had been some question over whether Williams would be back this season given his high salary cap figures over the next three years – $8.2 million in 2013, $9.2 million in 2014 and $10.2 million in 2015.
The day after the 2013 season, Williams acknowledged an uncertain future in Carolina due to his cap numbers, saying, ”The ball is not really in my court.”
”If there is any conversation that comes up, it’s on the Carolina Panthers end as far as getting rid of me or just doing nothing and having me come back,” Williams said as he was leaving the Panthers stadium on Dec. 31, 2012. ”So there is nothing on my end that I can do. When I signed my signature on that dotted line I was planning on being here for five years.”
As part of the restructured deal, $4 million of Williams’ scheduled base salary this season was converted into a signing bonus that will be prorated over the remainder of the contract, the person told the AP. Two years were also added on to the deal, but the contract is designed to expire after the 2015 season.
Williams’ best season came in 2008 when he ran for a franchise-record 1,515 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He was selected 27th overall by the Panthers in 2006 after rushing for 6,026 yards and five touchdowns at Memphis. He became the starter in 2008 after the team parted ways with DeShaun Foster.
NOTES: The Panthers announced they signed undrafted rookie free agent punter Jordan Gay. Gay played at Centre College in Kentucky.