As you might imagine, Panthers fans were none too pleased following the departures of Steve Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon LaFell — the team’s top three receivers.
To DeAngelo Williams, the disappointment is all the same.
During a Thursday interview on NFL Network’s “NFL AM,” Carolina’s running back lamented losing “all” of the wideouts.
“We lost them all,” Williams said, via ProFootballTalk.com. “That was tough, man. I played with Steve for eight years, and I know the chip he has on his shoulder, and he’s a playmaker. I couldn’t believe that we made those moves. Like, I’m still in shock. Not only did we lose him, but Ted Ginn Jr., Brandon LaFell, and [Domenik] Hixon.”
“You talk about Steve but I talk about all four of them, because those are three potential guys — Steve, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn — that can stretch the field … and Hixon was a possession receiver that came in and moved the chains for us,” Williams said, via NFL.com.
The Panthers countered the defections by signing Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood, and, most recently, Jason Avant. While each receiver adds a veteran presence, none represent a true upgrade on Smith, their longtime No. 1 pass-catcher.
Williams believes the new (but not improved) depth chart puts pressure on second-year general manager Dave Gettleman.
“It puts more pressure on the front office because you make these moves, getting rid of our four receivers, but you got to bring in guys,” he said. “No slight to Cotchery and Avant that we just signed. I don’t know many receivers on other teams, so I’m not saying they’re no-name guys, but our guys made their names all by themselves … I mean, I don’t know where we go from there.”
If these comments sound familiar, they should. Not even a week ago, former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, almost word-for-word, criticized the Panthers for taking away Cam Newton’s weapons.
Unless Carolina adds a top-notch receiver in next month’s draft — they’ve been linked to FSU’s Kelvin Benjamin and USC’s Marquise Lee — Williams can count on opposing defenses selling out to stop the run.
And he knows it.
“I don’t have any concerns so to speak,” he said about the offense in the regular season. “I just don’t want to see eight, nine guys in the box week in and week out because we’re working on our timing.”
It’ll be up to Gettleman to quell those concerns — or face more heat in the months to come.