Panthers release Williams after 9 seasons

Charlotte, NC ( - The Carolina Panthers announced Tuesday that they have released running back DeAngelo Williams after nine seasons.

Williams, who will turn 32 in April, told a Charlotte TV station last month that he was informed he was being cut during a meeting with Panthers coach Ron Rivera.

According to Williams, Rivera said the Panthers "don't run the ball enough" to keep both him and Jonathan Stewart on the team.

Williams is the franchise's all-time leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, but he appeared in only six games this past season, missing the last four regular-season contests because of a broken hand. The Panthers went 4-0 in those games with Stewart as the starter and won a second consecutive NFC South title despite a 7-8-1 record.

Stewart, 27, rushed for 809 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. Williams rushed for a career-low 219 yards and failed to score for the first time since he was drafted by the Panthers No. 27 overall in 2006.

The former Pro Bowl selection had just eight touches in two playoff games -- six runs and two catches.

"I don't feel bitter at all," Williams told WBTV last month. "(Stewart) had the hot hand at the end of the season. He's a great running back, obviously ... I don't feel bitter at all. It's a business."

Williams rushed for a career-high 1,515 yards in 2008, leading the league with 18 touchdowns that season. He gained 6,846 yards in 117 games for Carolina with 46 touchdowns on the ground and another seven through the air.

Rivera said in a statement Tuesday that Williams "will forever be remembered as one of the quintessential Panthers of this era."

"I really enjoyed watching DeAngelo grow over the past four years and wish him nothing but the best moving forward," Rivera said.