Steelers sign veteran running back DeAngelo Williams
March 13, 2015 6:03 PM
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DeAngelo Williams has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers after nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
For the second straight year, the Steelers signed a veteran halfback to play behind Le’Veon Bell. They hope this one sticks around longer.
DeAngelo Williams, who spent his first nine seasons in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers, signed a two-year contract today.
“I want to come in and help them be productive on offense,” Williams said. “Whether that means me coming off the bench, giving the offensive line water, making sure Ben Roethlisberger’s towel is dry so he can wipe his hands and throw the ball better – whatever it takes for us to win a Super Bowl, I’m willing and able to do it.”
The Steelers signed veteran LeGarrette Blount to back up Bell one year ago but Blount became dissatisfied with his playing time and quit on the team in a game at Tennessee last Nov. 17. The Steelers cut him the next day and he immediately signed with New England and won a Super Bowl ring.
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, 219 yards and 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.
“Trust me when I say that I’ve got a LOT of gas left in the tank,” Williams wrote on Twitter after he signed.
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.
Kelvin Beachum earned an additional $297,687 in performance based pay for the 2014 season, the NFL announced Friday. That is the seventh-highest among all NFL players and more than half of his $570,000 salary last season. The PBP compensated players for playing time based on their salary levels. It is given basically to those who have outplayed their rookie contracts. Beachum, a seventh-round draft choice in 2012, enters the final year of his contract, and the Steelers are likely to try to negotiate a longer one.
NFL players will receive $116 million in performance based pay for 2014.
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