Scott Fowler

What the Carolina Panthers should tell DeAngelo Williams

DeAngelo Williams, the Carolina Panthers’ all-time leading rusher, said on Twitter Monday that he would be open to playing for the team again since general manager Dave Gettleman has been fired.
DeAngelo Williams, the Carolina Panthers’ all-time leading rusher, said on Twitter Monday that he would be open to playing for the team again since general manager Dave Gettleman has been fired. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Note from Scott: If I were the Carolina Panthers, this is how I would respond to free agent DeAngelo Williams saying he would now consider joining the team given that general manager Dave Gettleman – whom Williams called a “snake” – has been fired.

To: DeAngelo Williams

From: The Carolina Panthers

Subject: Thanks – but no thanks

It has come to our attention, DeAngelo, that you would now consider playing for us again. We found this out – as did the rest of the social-media world – when you mentioned it on Twitter Monday while also calling our former general manager Dave Gettleman a “snake.”

As our all-time leader in rushing yards, your return certainly presents an intriguing possibility. You have done some fine work in Pittsburgh the past two years since we fired you, amassing 1,735 total yards and 17 touchdowns overall in the past two seasons before the Steelers decided not to sign you again. You have also been a great public advocate for those struggling with breast cancer. And we certainly are open to the returns of former players, as Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn would attest.

However, DeAngelo, you are 34 years old and play a position that takes an unbelievable pounding. The last season you had with us – in 2014 – you missed 10 games because of injury. In 2016, with Pittsburgh, you missed seven more games because of injury. We have a strong No. 1 running back in Jonathan Stewart, a dynamic No. 2 in rookie Christian McCaffrey and our all-time team leader in rushing touchdowns, Cam Newton, playing quarterback.

It’s nothing personal, DeAngelo, even though we know you often take things personally. You are one of the top 20 Panthers ever, but we just don’t need you right now.

If Stewart gets hurt – and that happens sometimes – we might contact you via Twitter. Lord knows you’re on there more than Donald Trump. But adding us onto your list of 28 other teams you would also consider playing for does nothing to change our depth chart.

Also, if you remember, you left Charlotte with both guns blazing in early 2015. You ripped the Panthers in an interview with WBTV for not sending anyone to your mother’s funeral in 2014. Only former defensive end Greg Hardy came among Panthers teammates and officials, you said, which is why you have been one of the few staunchly in Hardy’s corner ever since.

Unlike Steve Smith – who confined his criticism to Gettleman himself and who we now plan to honor in a number of ways for his Panthers career with our former GM mysteriously gone – your criticism went all the way up to our owner, Jerry Richardson. You called the fact that Richardson didn’t reach out to you until weeks after your mother died “extremely disappointing.” (You also said Richardson later apologized for this oversight.)

As you said in that WBTV interview: “It stung to know that a place of business that you work for, and that you've bled and played through injuries, you did everything you possibly can for this organization to be successful, and then upon your darkest hour they let you handle it by yourself.”

One more thing, DeAngelo: We don’t have a general manager, an assistant general manager or a team president right now. All have either been fired or have left for various reasons in the past six months. We’re sort of dysfunctional, if you haven’t noticed.

Now DeAngelo, we’re not diminishing our past together. Us and you – it really worked once. We had a beautiful 2008 together, when you ran for 1,515 yards, scored 20 touchdowns and didn’t fumble a single time.

But this is 2017. And although we’re trying to put this gently, let us be clear: This relationship is over.

Sincerely,

The Carolina Panthers

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