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DeAngelo Williams: Panthers plan to release me

"We sat down and (Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman) told me 'The fact of the matter is we're going to have to release you,' " Williams told Molly Grantham. "I said you know, 'Why?' and he said, 'because we don't run the ball enough. Just like you said back before the season started, we don't run the ball enough to keep you and both (Jonathan Stewart), so we're going to release you.' "

The Panthers told NFL Media the running back "has not been released."

Last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, Gettleman declined to discuss Williams' future. However, he spoke glowingly of how the 31-year-old battled through injury.

A healthy Jonathan Stewart took over the load from Williams last season and was one of the most physical runners over the latter half of the season, helping propel the Panthers into the playoffs.

"I don't feel bitter at all. (Stewart) had the hot hand at the end of the season. He's a great running back, obviously, uh, I don't feel bitter at all. It's a business," Williams said. "And that business comes back and reminds us year after year -- whether it be Steve Smith, whether it be Jordan Gross, whether it be myself -- it's going to happen to every guy in that locker room, so it doesn't bother me at all."

Williams' bulky contract, written by the previous administration, has always been a burden for the franchise. The Panthers won't receive much cap space by releasing Williams, but Gettleman hasn't been shy about cutting veteran players with large contracts to create room for younger players. The running back could be designated a post-June 1 cut to save the Panthers $2.3 million in cap space this season.

Williams will finish his nine-year Panthers career with 6,846 yards and 46 rushing touchdowns.

In a related move, offensive lineman Byron Bellannounced on his Instagram page that his tenure with the Panthers has come to an end. The 26-year-old guard, who started 56 games in Carolina over four years, wrote: "It's been real in Carolina now time to see where the Lord takes me next.! Can't be mad 4 years would love more but hey it is what it is ... "

The Charlotte Observer confirmed that Bell won't be back with the team, per a source.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down all the latest from the combine and gives updates on Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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