Despite starting just 13 games in his four seasons with the Panthers, running back Jonathan Stewart has led the team in rushing in two of the past three seasons and logged more playing time than backfield mate DeAngelo Williams last season (577 snaps to 447, according to official playing-time documents).
"We're good. There's no reason I would want to leave as of now," Stewart said Thursday, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. "That being said, I'm a Panther and I intend on being one."
One look at Williams' five-year, $43 million contract, Cam Newton's involvement in the running game (70 designed running plays in 2012, including 33 in the red zone, according to Football Outsiders Almanac 2012) and the arrival of Mike Tolbert on a four-year, $10 million contract this offseason casts doubt over Stewart's long-term future with the team, but a return is not impossible.
After this season, none of the three years and $18 million remaining on Williams' is guaranteed. With Williams turning 30 next April, the Panthers could release the older back and go with Stewart, who doesn't turn 26 until next March.