CHARLOTTE – Daryl Williams is a man of faith, a man who believes that everything happens for a reason.
Many thought he’d sign a multi-year contract with a new team in his first foray into free agency. Few thought he’d return to Carolina in 2019 on a one-year contract.
But for both Williams and the Panthers, there are plenty of reasons to be happy about the deal the two sides struck just as free agency opened Wednesday afternoon – a deal that Williams signed less than 24 hours later.
“I feel like it’s fair for both sides – the organization and me. I feel like I’m in a good position,” Williams said. “I’m super-excited.
“This is a second home. Me and my wife are comfortable here, and we felt like it would be better than going somewhere else that we’re not familiar with.”
The one-year deal has been called a “prove-it” contract for Williams, an All-Pro right tackle in 2017 who was sidelined for all but one game in 2018 with a knee injury.
“I always feel like I have something to prove, and especially this year,” Williams said. “It was a crazy year for me and my wife, going through that. But our spirits were up. God took care of us.”
Coming off his standout season in 2017, Williams tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the first week of training camp. He battled back to start at right tackle in the season opener but suffered a different injury to the same knee against the Cowboys and was placed on injured reserve.
“I feel great,” Williams said in regards to his rehab, adding that he’s “a hundred percent” certain he’ll be ready for the regular season while not offering a specific timetable beyond that. “I’ll be back and ready when I’m supposed to be.”
Taylor Moton, who started the 2018 season opener at left tackle, took over for Williams on the right side after his injury. That stands as Moton’s lone start at left tackle between his college and pro careers, while Williams’ lone start there came in college.
Moton was filling in at left tackle for Matt Kalil, Carolina’s starter on the left side in 2017 who spent the entire 2018 season on injured reserve and was released Thursday. The Panthers haven’t re-signed Chris Clark or Marshall Newhouse, veterans who held down the left side from Week 2 on.
So how will the Panthers proceed from a position standpoint with Williams?
“Whatever they want me to do,” Williams said. “I’m here. I’m just excited to get back on the field and put in the work.”