The Pittsburgh Steelers have finally signed their first outside free agent of the offseason as former Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams has agreed to a deal, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) March 13, 2015
Williams, who was originally drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of Memphis by the Panthers, only played in six games last season due to various injuries.
During his nine seasons with the Panthers, Williams rushed for 6,846 regular season yards and 46 touchdowns on 1,432 carries. He also caught 178 regular season passes for 1,621 yards and seven touchdowns during that same span.
Williams will likely be the Steelers starter at the beginning of the 2015 season as Le’Veon Bell is expected to be suspended for the first two games. Once Bell returns, Williams will likely be expected to play a complimentary role to Bell.
Even though the Steelers have signed Williams, there’s still a good chance that they will add another running back at some point during the 2015 NFL Draft.
While Williams will turn 32 in April, he doesn’t have the mileage on him that several other running backs with his age and experience often do. While he has failed to play in 27 regular season games during his career, 20 of those missed games came in two seasons. He averaged just 159 carries per season during his career in Carolina.
Being as Williams was a street free agent, his signing will not be factored into the compensatory draft pick formula next offseason.
Williams signing now also reunites him with Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, who was the offensive coordinator at Memphis from 2001–2006.