Carolina Panthers

Next Panthers lineman set to get high-dollar, long-term deal? He's focused on vacation

Panthers tackle Daryl Williams was re-signed by the team to a one-year deal according to a source. The move was surprising, as Williams tested the free agent market during the legal tampering period and was not expected to return to Carolina.
Panthers tackle Daryl Williams was re-signed by the team to a one-year deal according to a source. The move was surprising, as Williams tested the free agent market during the legal tampering period and was not expected to return to Carolina. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers right tackle Daryl Williams is headed to the Dominican Republic with his wife for a little R&R this summer.

On the agenda: snorkeling, maybe a dinner cruise and a lot of kicking back.

Not on the agenda: any type of adventure sports.

“I don’t know if I’ll Jet Ski. I might be too big for that and it’s a little too dangerous,” Williams said, laughing. “But we’ll snorkel a little bit.”

It was mentioned to Williams that he also might want to protect his investment — himself — as he enters a contract year.

“I’m not trying to get hurt,” he said.

Williams said his agents have had preliminary discussions with the Panthers about a contract extension. The 2015 fourth-round pick from Oklahoma is set to make $1.9 million in the final year of his rookie deal.

Williams improved his negotiating position with a strong showing in 2017 during his first season as a full-time starter.

The 6-6, 330-pound Williams was a second-team selection on The Associated Press All-Pro team. Pro Football Focus ranked Williams as the league’s highest-rated right tackle.

That would seem to set Williams up well to follow Panthers Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner, who received a lucrative extension last summer shortly after Marty Hurney arrived as (then-interim) general manager.

Both Williams and No. 1 wideout Devin Funchess, the second-round pick in 2015, are in contract years. The Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on outside linebacker Shaq Thompson, their first-rounder in ’15.

Williams was asked whether he thinks a new deal could get done before the start of the season.

“I have no clue. I just leave that up to my agents, doing the negotiating,” Williams said Thursday after the Panthers wrapped up their minicamp. “I’m just trying to focus on practicing and stuff like that.”

It’s interesting Williams mentioned practice.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Williams’ career took off after he became more consistent on the practice field.

“When he first got here, it was understanding how to practice. Then as he became a starter it was continuing to practice hard. Now it’s the consistency of how hard he practices,” Rivera said.

“That’s been probably the biggest thing. He’s a smart player, understands the game, has good technique. But it’s about coming to work everyday and being consistent with that effort. He’s done a great job with that.”

Williams enjoyed working in new coordinator Norv Turner’s offense this spring, but said it wasn’t that big of a change schematically. While Williams lined up alongside Turner on the right side, there was more movement on the left side of the line, where the Panthers looked for a replacement for All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell.

Norwell signed a five-year, $66.5 million contract with Jacksonville that — combined with the robust deals received by Giants tackle Nate Solder and Cowboys guard Zack Martin — helped reset the market for offensive linemen.

Asked whether Norwell may have raised the bar for him, Williams said: “Norwell deserves that. We’ll see what happens.”

With a Dominican trip on the horizon, Williams didn’t seem too preoccupied with contract talks on the final day of minicamp.

But he made it clear where he wants to be after his vacation — and beyond.

“I love the Panthers. I love the organization. I love Charlotte,” he said. “I hope I can finish the rest of my career here.”

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson
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