Carolina Panthers

Former Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams signs with Steelers

Three days after being formally released by the Carolina Panthers, running back DeAngelo Williams signed a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday.
Three days after being formally released by the Carolina Panthers, running back DeAngelo Williams signed a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed veteran halfback DeAngelo Williams Friday afternoon to be their No. 2 back behind Le'Veon Bell.

The Carolina Panthers released Williams Tuesday with a June cut designation to save $2 million under their salary cap this season. He was to count $6.3 million under their cap in 2015 and they have halfback Jonathan Stewart who will count $8.3 million. One of them had to go.

Williams, who turns 32 next month, has a stocky, 5-9, 215-pound build and once ran the 40 in 4.4 seconds. The Panthers drafted him in the first round in 2006 from Memphis, where current Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner was on the offensive staff.

He rushed for 6,026 yards in four seasons at Memphis including over 1,900 in each of his final two seasons.

Williams rushed for 6,846 yards in nine seasons with Carolina, but injuries reduced him to just six games last season and his lowest production as a pro. He gained 219 yards with a 3.5-yard average, the only time in his career he averaged fewer than 4.1 yards per carry. His season was cut short by a hamstring injury, high ankle sprain and broken hand.

His best season came in 2008 when he rushed for 1,515 yards and a 5.5-yard average per carry with 18 touchdowns rushing and another two receiving on 22 catches. He followed that with 1,117 yards in 13 games in 2009.

Before his injury-pocked 2014 season, he rushed for 843 yards (4.2 average) in 15 games – all starts – in 2013 and caught 26 passes for another 333 yards.

He and Stewart have shared the backfield position for the past seven seasons in Carolina. They became one of only six duos to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season when they both did so in 2009, the most recent teammates to accomplish that. Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier each rushed for 1,000 yards for the 1976 Steelers, the second duo to do so.

Williams wore No. 34 with Carolina and that number is available with the Steelers.

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