Ron Rivera recently interviewed with ProfootballTalk, mentioning that Carolina definitely would use a Franchise Tag.
More recently it's come up that they won't use it on RB Deangelo Williams, apparently intending to use it on C Ryan Kalil.
I don't have a problem with making Kalil the priority, it's always been assumed that he would remain here. It's an assumption, as well, that he will garner a record-breaking contract for his position, or at least come very close. Nick Mangold signed, before the start of this season, a 7 year, $55 million contract - Mangold is better, but Kalil has earned two Pro Bowls in a row and appears to be the best NFC center over the last few years.
But, again it's assumed that he would be here. Franchising him guarantees it, but it seemed to be a fair guarantee he'd be signed.
Deangelo Williams wasn't guaranteed, and still isn't apparently.
Furthermore, there's nothing allowing the Panthers leverage to move Williams, if they didn't put him in their plans.
So, we can't unload Williams if he doesn't sign, or if his demands are higher than we want for a guy who'll get less carries this year.
We don't have to have Williams - two great backs is a luxury if you believe Jonathan Stewart will be healthier than Williams (he hasn't missed games, Williams has; Stewart never can practice, however), but in a RB-weak draft, and what some feel is a weak draft anyway, wouldn't it be great to exchange Williams for a late-first round CB?