If you’re like me, you were wishing the Panthers let DeAngelo Williams leave as a free agent and allowed Jonathan Stewart to become their new featured back. But in the words of Grandpa Gustafson in Grumpy Old Men, “you can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which gets filled first.”
Carolina retained Williams on Tuesday, signing him to a five-year, $43 million deal. Due to the size of the deal, I don’t think I’d be going out on a limb to suggest that Williams is going to continue to start — and Stewart will remain second on the depth chart while also seeing more of the goal-line duties. The positive here is that the Panthers are going to run the football a ton, so there should be plenty of opportunities for both backs.
The downside, of course, is that neither Williams nor Stewart is going to be overly reliable in the stat sheets.
In the six games that Williams started last season, he was on pace to record 232 carries. In those same six contests, Stewart saw 50 combined rushing attempts — that would have put him on pace for just 133 over a full slate of games. Whether that distribution is different under new coach Ron Rivera remains to be seen, but it’s clear that neither back should be drafted as more than a No. 2 option in the majority of leagues.
One thing is for sure coming out of this situation — fantasy owners missed out on a chance to see a elite runner (Stewart) emerge and will instead have to deal with another backfield committee.