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DeAngelo Williams: A Move To The New Orleans Saints Possible?

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Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is slated to become a free agent this off-season.

The Panthers are coming a disasterous 2-14 season in 2010 and are currently in re-building mode after parting with head coach John Fox and most of his coaching staff.

Williams just doesn’t figure into their plans for the foreseeable future and the decision has been made to utilize Johnathan Stewart as the primary back in 2011.

Williams appeared in only six games last season before being placed on injured reserve with a foot injury but is likely to be one of the top free agents available given his past production.

Williams enjoyed a breakout season in his third year with the Panthers rushing for 1,515 yards and eighteen touchdowns while catching 22 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

His production did decline but it was primarily because of the drafting of running back Johnathan Stewart and adoption of a true two-back style rushing system.

In his five year career with the Carolina Panthers, Williams has averaged five yards per carry, rushed for 4,211 yards and 31 touchdowns. He has also caught 118 passes for 922 yards and four touchdowns.

Touted as one of the few “complete” running backs in the NFL today he can rush, catch and pass block when needed and has a fantastic combination of speed, power and vision not unlike Saints young rookie running back Chris Ivory.

Ivory found his stride with the Saints after joining them in the preseason as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Tiffin University. He led the team in rushing yards (716), rushing touchdowns (5) and yards per carry (5.2) but the team still struggled to find any true rushing success.

New Orleans ranked 28th in rushing last season only a year removed fron being ranked 5th during their Super Bowl winning 2009 season

While it’s certainly true that injuries played a huge part in their struggles on the ground last season, both starters Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush missed significant playing time among others, Williams addition certainly makes sense given the uncertain futures of both Thomas and Bush.

Bush is scheduled to make over eleven million dollars for the upcoming season and if he expects to stick with team must restructure his contract to a much lower amount, which he has said he is willing to do.

Thomas is coming of an injury filled campaign in 2010, major ankle surgery just days ago, and is scheduled to become a free agent next season, making his return far but guaranteed.

If you recall the Saints and Thomas could not reach an agreement on money during contract talks before the start of last season and eventually he would reluctantly agree to the Saints one-year tender offer of just under three million dollars.

Head coach Sean Payton will have to find a way to manufacture production on the ground next season and a sure fire way to do it is by signing Williams, which would give them what could perhaps be one of the best running back duo’s in the league when paired with Ivory.

Typically the Saints are not known as the type of team to progressively pursues big name free agents and instead opts to fill their roster through the draft or by signing “bargaining basement” type free agents instead.

Williams apparently is already highly desired by the Miami Dolphins who have made indications they will try to aggressively pursue and sign him at the start of free agency, so the competition for his services is sure to be stiff.

Check out Keith Null’s weekly article about the Saints on NFL.com by clicking here.

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